On Thursday, Churchill Downs put in place measures meant to discourage trainers from running unsound horses. Those same rules will be in effect at Ellis Park.
The track will no longer offer incentives to trainers who start horses in its races or pay purse money for first place through last place, according to a statement from the company. Payouts instead will be limited to the top five finishers.
Horses also will be allowed only four starts during a rolling eight-week period and horses that are beaten by more than 12 lengths in five consecutive starts will be ineligible to race until the equine medical director approves their return to racing.
The changes suggest Churchill believes its bonus policies, which were intended to provide fuller fields for the betting public, may have affected the decision making of horsemen.
Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, the director of equine safety and welfare for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, met this week with veterinarians from Churchill Downs and the state of Kentucky to review necropsies, toxicology reports and veterinarians’ and trainers’ notes on the deaths.
On Wednesday, Dennis Moore, a longtime California track superintendent, examined the racing surfaces at Churchill and offered an independent analysis of the dirt and turf courses’ suitability for racing. That review is ongoing, according to the authority, and his findings will be made public once it is concluded.