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2 horses mysteriously die during Kentucky Derby Week, 2 more euthanized after injuries

This year, four horses have died since the opening of Kentucky Derby week. 

Churchill Downs Racetrack — which hosts the crown jewel of competitive horse races — called the deaths "highly unusual" and "completely unacceptable." 

In a public statement on Wednesday Churchill Downs said, "We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed."

While thousands of horses have died in the last decade from racing-related injuries, four deaths during a single Kentucky Derby Week, which takes place every May in Louisville, Kentucky, have owners, trainers, and animal welfare activists asking questions. 

Two horses died from unknown causes when they both suddenly collapsed after completing races. Two more horses were euthanized this week due to irreparable injuries, according to a statement from Churchill Downs Racetrack. A horse must win all three races to win the Derby's coveted Triple Crown prize, which comes with a multi-million dollar prize.

Morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky. Getty Images

Parents Pride died on Saturday, which was Opening Night, and Chasing Artie died on Tuesday. Both were owned by Ken Ramsey and trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Churchill Downs Racetrack confirmed in the statement. Trainer Joseph Jr. told a local newspaper that the two horses seemed to collapse out of nowhere.  

Two other horses sustained musculoskeletal injuries, which are bone and joint disorders that can cause debilitating pain and impair a horse's ability to see, breathe, and even chew and swallow, according to Stephen B. Adams, a professor of surgery at Purdue University, College of Veterinary Medicine.

One horse, Wild Ice, was injured during training on April 27, while the second horse, Take Charge Briana, was injured during a turf race on May 2. Wild on Ice was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for care, but both horses "were ultimately euthanized for humane reasons," Churchill Downs said. 

All four horses will undergo complete necropsies at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostics Lab, the statement said.

CBS News has reached out to Churchill Downs and Ramsey Farms for comment.

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