(CNN) The company that runs the famous Kentucky Derby has suspended racehorse trainer Savvy Joseph Jr. indefinitely after what it called the deaths of two “extremely unaccustomed” horses — meaning one of his other horses could not run as planned in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Churchill Downs’ decision on Thursday comes after Joseph trained two horses, died suddenly From what officials said, for reasons unknown, at the company’s namesake racetrack in Louisville on Saturday and Tuesday.
Joseph’s suspension, the company said, meant Lord Miles, another horse he’s training, was scratched out of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown.
“The suspension prevents Joseph, or any trainer employed directly or indirectly by Joseph, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all racetracks owned by CDI,” Churchill Downs said.
“CDI’s decision follows the sudden and unusual deaths of two horses trained by Joseph at Churchill Downs Racecourse: Parents’ Pride on Saturday and Artie’s Chase on Tuesday,” the company’s statement read.
“Given the sudden unexplained death, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and have decided to put him on hold indefinitely until the details are analyzed and understood,” Bill Mudd, CDI’s president and chief operating officer, said Thursday.
“The safety of horse and human athletes and the safety of our sport are our top priorities. We feel that these measures are our duty and our responsibility,” he added.
Parents Pride and Artie Chase were among four horses to die at Churchill Downs within five days.
The other two died after suffering musculoskeletal injuries, according to track officials He said. Derby competitor Wild on Ice was injured in practice on April 27 and Tech Charge Brianna was injured in Tuesday’s race. Both were “euthanized on humanitarian grounds,” according to Churchill Downs.
Joseph said after learning of his comment CNN affiliate WDRB that he believed Churchill Downs was treating him unfairly.
“I am the scapegoat,” he told WDRB on Thursday. “They’ve had more deaths this week, and here’s Saffie, that’s the problem. Trust me, it’s hard enough for our horses to have their problems.
“But the truth is, I… I’ve never had horses die from this problem. They’ve been injured but never by something unknown. It’s not known why.”
Before announcing the suspension, Joseph told CNN on Thursday that he was feeling “uneasy and devastated” by the deaths of the horses he trained.
“At the moment, I don’t know why this happened, and it makes us anxious,” Joseph said.
“People who don’t come to the paddock don’t see the emotional care of these horses,” he said.
Joseph told CNN at the time that the investigation into the deaths had found “no significant findings yet.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave Bell Maude the wrong title. He is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs.
CNN’s Homero DeLaFuente contributed to this report.
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