Animal Wellness Action Calls on Churchill Downs to Scratch Lord Miles from Derby Because His Trainer Has Already Lost Two Horses This Week

With Two of His Horses Dropping Dead, Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. Should Not Be Allowed to Run Lord Miles in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby

Washington, D.C. — Animal Wellness Action today urged the management at Churchill Downs to deny a racing slot to Saffie Joseph Jr. because two of his horses — Parents Pride and Chasing Artie — died for unexplained reasons this week in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby.

“It would be reckless and wrong-headed to allow Saffie Joseph Jr. to put one more horse into competition at Churchill Downs,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Two horses he trained have dropped dead without explanation at Churchill Downs, and, in any fair assessment of his performance, he’s lost the privilege of running a horse in this year’s Derby.”

Lord Miles, trained by Joseph Jr., is slated to run in the 149th Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Churchill Downs called the series of four total deaths of horses this week “completely unacceptable” and declared “these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed.”

“If their words have practical applications, then Churchill Down must protect Lord Miles and keep him out of the starting gate and out of competition,” added Pacelle.

“As a native Louisvillian, I get the passion people here and across the country feel about this iconic race,” said Joseph Grove, director of public relations for Animal Wellness Action and host of the Animal Wellness podcast. “But the care of the horses must be our first priority, and this cluster of horse deaths is startling. Lamentations are not enough.”

The four deaths at Churchill Downs add to the total of 7,200 horses nationwide who have died from race injuries between 2009-2021, according to a database kept by the Jockey Club.

Last week, the FTC extended the deadline for race-day anti-doping standards to go into effect for Thoroughbred racing. In announcing the alarming move, the agency admitted to moving the deadline to prevent it from taking effect before the Triple Crown begins. Congress passed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in December 2020, and Congress amended the law to safeguard its provisions from a constitutional challenge in December 2022.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

The Center for a Humane Economy (“the Center”) is a non-profit organization that focuses on influencing the conduct of corporations to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both.