May 4, 2019

Horse racing seeks normalcy in Kentucky Derby after unexplained Santa Anita deaths

In this image, a racer rides a horse on an empty race track in the rain at night.

A horse and rider train at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2019 in preparation for the 145th Kentucky Derby. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As the 145th Kentucky Derby is set to unfold on Saturday with a record-breaking guaranteed purse of $3 million, some are looking back at the horse racing world's last stint in national news: Santa Anita.

The intrigue: 3 of the horses racing on Saturday — Game Winner, Improbable and Roadster — are from Santa Anita Park, where 23 top-tier thoroughbreds died from unknown causes within 4 months, the Washington Post reports. When the death toll was 21, Axios reported that 7 horses died while racing on the dirt oval, 5 died during turf races and 9 died while training.

Where it stands: Trainers and jockeys interviewed by the Post emphasized that the Kentucky Derby will bring some normalcy back to the sport.

Go deeper: The Post interviews Kentucky Derby trainers, jockeys on Santa Anita deaths

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