Eight Belles, the filly who broke down after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 3, had no pre-existing bone abnormalities, a necropsy report released May 15 concluded. The filly suffered compound fractures of both front legs at the fetlock joints.
The necropsy, ordered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, also found no disease or condition affecting the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems or other major organs, said Dr. Lafe Nichols, Kentucky chief state veterinarian.
Owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms and trained by Larry Jones, Eight Belles was euthanized on the track 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.
Porter had previously stated preliminary necropsy reports said the daughter of Unbridled's Song out of the Dixieland Band mare Away did not suffer a heart attack or an aneurysm or any other surprises.
At its regularly scheduled May 19 meeting, the KHRA 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.