Ninth horse dies in less than a month at Churchill Downs

In the past month, nine horses have perished at Churchill Downs, a renowned racing track located in Louisville. Swanson Lake, a three-year-old filly, was the most recent casualty. She sustained a “significant” injury to her left hind leg during a $120,000 race and was euthanized after being looked at by veterinarians. Out of the nine horses that have died, one, Wild on Ice, was supposed to compete in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, where the victor was a chestnut colt from Kentucky named Mage.

Kathy Guillermo, the Senior Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement that Churchill Downs is a “killing field” and that “Taps” should be played at the Derby instead of the traditional song “My Old Kentucky Home.”

On Saturday, Bob Baffert, a well-known racehorse trainer, was allowed to return from a suspension following the positive test of one of his horses for performance-enhancing drugs. Sadly, Havnameltdown, another horse under his care, broke his non-operable left fore fetlock and had to be euthanized. Washington Post reported in 2021 that at least 74 horses have died in Baffert’s care since 2000, and Guillermo commented on the tragedy, saying they should have barred Baffert from the track.

However, Baffert’s horse named National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, granting him his 17th Triple Crown win and eighth win at the Preakness. Baffert said that it was an “emotional day,” as they had gone through a “horrible race” following the death of Havnameltdown.