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A trainer is suspended from the Kentucky Derby after 2 of his horses died

Kentucky Derby hopeful Lord Miles works out at Churchill Downs Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6.
Charlie Riedel
/
AP
Kentucky Derby hopeful Lord Miles works out at Churchill Downs Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6.

Updated May 5, 2023 at 8:38 AM ET

Horse trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. has been suspended indefinitely from the Kentucky Derby and other Churchill Downs races, after two of the horses in his care mysteriously died, the organization said Thursday.

Parents Pride died last Saturday and Chasing Artie died on Tuesday. The causes are still unknown.

Another of Joseph's horses, Lord Miles, has been scratched from the 149th Kentucky Derby, which takes place Saturday. Post time for the race is 6:57 p.m. ET.

"Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood," Churchill Downs Incorporated President Bill Mudd said. "The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility."

This year's Derby will be run after a number of high-profile deaths and injuries at the famed track.

"In the past week, four horses have died at Churchill Downs including a Kentucky Derby qualifier," member station Louisville Public Media reports. "Two more were pulled from their races due to injuries Wednesday."

Other trainers directly and indirectly employed by Joseph will be banned from entering horses in Churchill Downs races or keeping horses in the stalls there.

In 2021, Medina Spirit, a horse entered by Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert, won the Kentucky Derby. But the title was stripped days later, after Medina Spirit failed a drug test. Baffert was suspended for two years from Churchill Downs races.

Medina Spirit died later that year, after a workout at a track in Southern California.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 4, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby in 2022. In fact, the horse won the race in 2021, before the title was stripped over a failed drug test.
Ayana Archie