With the number of equine fatalities during the current spring meeting at Churchill Downs now up to 12, officials at the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) are convening an 'emergency veterinary summit' to be held Tuesday, May 30, in Kentucky.
“HISA's highest priority is the safety and well-being of the horses and riders competing under its jurisdiction,” a HISA statement released Monday begins. “We remain deeply concerned by the unusually high number of equine fatalities at Churchill Downs over the last several weeks. We continue to seek answers, and we are working diligently with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) to mitigate any additional risk.”
The Tuesday meeting is expected to bring together the veterinary teams from Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and HISA to 'thoroughly review all veterinary information available and conduct additional analysis in hopes of better understanding the events surrounding the recent fatalities.'
HISA is also enlisting the services of noted track superintendent Dennis Moore to provide 'a second and independent' review of the racing and training surfaces at Churchill Downs. The review is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 31, and HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus and Racetrack Safety Director Ann McGovern will be on site to receive results and analysis and any suggested follow-ups needed.
Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, the director of equine safety and welfare, is also being dispatched to provide additional veterinary expertise and observation to ensure optimal veterinary oversight of the horses.
Following a special Memorial Day program Monday, racing is set to resume at Churchill Thursday, June 1, with a first post of 5 p.m. ET.
Following the 11th and 12th equine fatalities last Friday and Saturday, respectively, officials at Churchill Downs issued a statement of their own, pledging their commitment to pursue answers and solutions to the problem.