Home Mage’s Kentucky Derby win overcast by seven horse deaths at Churchill Downs

Mage’s Kentucky Derby win overcast by seven horse deaths at Churchill Downs

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(© Daren Whitaker – stock.adobe.com)

The 149th Kentucky Derby was won by Mage on Saturday, but the horse, who is owned by more than 300 individuals, is getting none of the spotlight.

Since April 27, seven horses have died at the Louisville track, including five during the week prior to the Derby. The other two were euthanized hours before Derby post time after suffering injuries.

One horse, Lord Miles, was scratched from the race because his trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr., is suspended indefinitely from Churchill Downs amid investigations of the deaths of two of his other horses.

Joseph-trained Parents Pride collapsed and died after the eighth race on April 29, and Chasing Artie collapsed and died after last Tuesday’s eighth race. According to Yahoo Entertainment, Churchill Downs called the deaths of both horses “highly unusual” and suspended Joseph for utmost caution.

On April 27, Derby hopeful Wild On Ice suffered a left hind leg fracture and was euthanized after evaluation and transportation to an equine surgical facility in Lexington.

Chloe’s Dream suffered a right front knee injury in the second race on Derby Day and was euthanized.

Also on Derby Day, Freezing Point pulled up along the back stretch of the track in the eighth race, then was loaded into an equine ambulance, but later euthanized, NBC announced.

The first non-Derby hopeful who died was 3-year-old filly Take Charge Briana after suffering a “catastrophic injury” in last Tuesday’s fifth race.

On Saturday, Code of Kings, a 3-year-old gelding, was reportedly fixated by party lights at the DJ booth near the paddock at Churchill Downs, flipped multiple times and suffered a broken neck. He was euthanized at an equine clinic.

Mage took the lead against 17 other horses in 2:01:57 in Saturday’s race. Five horses were scratched from the race.

The Preakness will be raced on Saturday, May 20, and the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 10.

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Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.