Favorite Forte scratched as two horses die on Kentucky Derby day

Kentucky Derby favorite Forte has become the fifth horse to be withdrawn from the US racing showpiece
Kentucky Derby favorite Forte has become the fifth horse to be withdrawn from the US racing showpiece

Kentucky Derby favorite Forte was scratched from the US racing showpiece with a foot injury as horse deaths at Churchill Downs continued to climb on Saturday.

A statement from Churchill Downs said Forte was scratched from Saturday's 1 1/4-mile race after an examination by veterinarians from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission raised concerns about the horse's bruised front foot.

The cautious approach came amid an alarming spate of horse deaths at Churchill Downs in the build-up to the first race of the Triple Crown -- which continued Saturday when two horses were euthanized after suffering injuries while racing.

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Chloe's Dream, injured in the second race of the day, and Freezing Point, who was pulled up with a fetlock injury in the eighth race, were both taken from the track in an equine ambulance and later euthanized.

According to the Equibase race report, Chloe's Dream, a 3-year-old ridden by jockey Corey Lanerie, "was allowed to settle, tucked in to save ground, went wrong leaving the first turn, pulled up and was vanned off."

They brought the total number of equine fatalities since April 27 at Churchill Downs to seven.

Derby-bound Wild on Ice and Take Charge Briana were euthanized after suffering leg injuries.


Chasing Artie and Parents Pride, both trained by Saffie Joseph, collapsed and died with the cause of death still unknown.

The Board of Stewards announced Thursday that all Joseph-trained horses had been scratched from all races until further notice. That included Derby runner Lord Miles.

Those four deaths prompted a statement of concern from Churchill Downs officials on Wednesday.

The Daily Racing Form reported that another horse, Code of Kings, flipped over while being unsaddled in the paddock and broke his neck.

The deaths and scratches have cast a shadow over the normally festive week that signals the start of the Triple Crown season.


Forte is the fifth horse to be pulled out of the Derby following the withdrawals of Practical Move, Lord Miles, Continuar and Skinner. It is the first time since 1936 that five horses have been scratched from the Derby.

Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, issued a statement Saturday saying the measures taken so far by Churchill Downs to protect horses were inadequate.

"The pre-Derby death toll is still mounting," Guillermo said after Chloe's Dream was euthanized. "Although PETA appreciates that the Kentucky state veterinarian exercised caution by scratching the Derby favorite, we called for the closure of the track so stronger protocols could be put in place. Churchill Downs should have listened."