Four Horse Deaths at Churchill Downs Renew Safety Concerns Ahead of Kentucky Derby

On Thursday, Joseph watched as Lord Miles was walked outside his barn before he was taken to the track for light exercise. Joseph checked the horse’s legs both at the barn and on the track.

Asked if he would scratch Lord Miles, he responded, “No.” Asked why he was checking his legs, he said, “I always do that.”

While Churchill Downs said it would “continue to take every measure to ensure that we are providing the safest possible environment for horses on our property,” it did not have the authority to require Joseph to scratch his Derby horse because he was already entered in the race. That decision would have to come from the racing commission.

Joseph, 36, a Barbados native, is a leading trainer who is based in Florida. His 2022 Derby horse, White Abarrio, finished 16th. According to a database that tracks medication violations, he was fined $500 for a positive test for Clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, at Gulfstream Park in Florida in 2015 and $1,000 for a positive test for aminocaproic acid, which treats bleeding disorders, at Monmouth Park in New Jersey in 2021. He is also appealing a 15-day suspension and $500 because of a positive test for Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication, at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania in 2022.

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