Churchill Downs Horse Deaths
"Like all types of athletes, racehorses occasionally suffer exercise-associated sudden death/collapse.
All horses that die or are euthanized at Kentucky racetracks (Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Turfway Park, Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park and The Red Mile) are submitted to the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for postmortem examination.
Exercise-associated sudden death in racehorses includes deaths that occur during or within two hours postexercise and examination follows a comprehensive, established protocol. In addition to the standard gross examination, extension examination of the heart, including the cardiac conduction system, is performed.
As in human athletes, it can be difficult to identify the cause of sudden death based on postmortem examination. Many cases are presumed to be acute electrochemical abnormalities which do not produce tissue changes in the peracute phase."