May 18, 2008 — Eight Belles, the filly who broke down after the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, suffered compound fractures of both front legs at the fetlock joints, a necropsy report released May 15 concluded.
The necropsy, ordered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA), found no pre-existing bone abnormalities, said Dr. Lafe Nichols, chief state veterinarian. The necropsy also found no disease or condition affecting the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems or other major organs.
Eight Belles was euthanized at the track shortly after suffering the catastrophic leg injuries.
The necropsy was performed at the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center at the University of Kentucky. The results of routine post-race drug testing have not yet been received. That testing is being performed at the authority’s official laboratory at Iowa State University.
At its May 19 meeting, the authority will be asked by its chairman, Robert Beck Jr., to form a work group to study health and safety issues relating to thoroughbred racing.
“Nothing is more important to the racing industry than the safety of the competitors,” said Lisa Underwood, executive director of KHRA.