Kentucky Derby trainer barred from race after 'two highly unusual sudden deaths' | The Sun

TRAINER Saffie Joseph has been barred from having horses in the Kentucky Derby after two 'highly unusual' and 'sudden' deaths.

Parents Pride and Chasing Artie collapsed and died at Churchill Downs with the cause of death unknown.

Joseph Jr was due to run Wood Memorial winner Lord Miles in the 149th Kentucky Derby but he was scratched yesterday evening.

As a result of the suspension, Joseph Jr or anyone directly or indirectly employed by him is prohibited from entering horses in races at any Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) tracks.

CDI also operates four of the US's bigger tracks – Colonial Downs, Fair Grounds, Presque Isle Downs and Turfway Park.

In a statement, CDI's chief operating officer Bill Mudd said: "Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses and decided to suspend him indefinitely.

"The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility."

Joseph Jr had already scratched five horses that had been in contact with the two that had died from races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Joseph Jr told Thoroughbred Daily News: “We’ve done every test and everything in our power to find out what happened.

“It happened at a bad time. The Kentucky Racing Commission told me there was no wrongdoing on my part. They looked at my barn and said you did nothing wrong.

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"Churchill asked me to scratch all the horses and I did. Then for Churchill to come out and suspend me indefinitely, they’re trying to save their face.”

There have been four deaths in the build up to Saturday's triple crown race.

Take Charge Briana and Wild On Ice both had to be put down after suffering leg injuries earlier this week.

It has been a strange week at Churchill Downs, with one of the leading big-race contenders Verifying dumping his rider and getting loose in a training mishap.

And Tell Me Nolies, due to run in today's Kentucky Oaks, also got loose in the paddock.

As well as Lord Miles, Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move and Japanese raider Continuar have also been scratched.

That means the three reserves – Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero and King Russell – have all made the final field of 20.

It also means that should there be any further scratchings, there won't be a full field for this year's Derby.

Joseph Jr is one of the US's biggest names and has already accrued over $3million in prize money this year.

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He started his career in his home country of Barbados and is one of the top trainers at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

He's trained four Grade 1 winners including Pennsylvania Derby winner Math Wizard and Florida Derby hero White Abarrio.

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