LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With just over two weeks until the Kentucky Derby, the issue of horse safety nationwide is now front and center.
Churchill Downs announced several new safety initiatives Thursday, including some changes in time for next month's Run for the Roses.
"We recognize that we're a leader in this industry, and now is the time to lead," Churchill Downs Spokesman Darren Rogers said.
The track announced it's spending $8 million to build an Equine Medical Center that will also serve as a quarantine barn.
Historically, Rogers said an injured horse would be treated in its barn or transported to medical facilities in Lexington. The new facility won't open until March 2020, so for this year's Derby, a temporary medical tent will be on site.
"Nonetheless, (it's) a place where veterinarians can store equipment and have immediate care on-site in the event of an injury," Rogers said.
Churchill Downs also announced its support to phase out Lasix on raceday. It's a drug that stops horses from bleeding during intense workouts.
"It's been a very controversial and divisive subject for many years, but it's really been brought to the fore in recent months," Rogers said.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that still allows Lasix on raceday.
"Now is the time for us to get in line with the rest of the world and fall in line with international race day standards," he said.
Churchill Downs will also work with tracks nationwide to fund and create an independent, national Office of Racing Integrity.
Over the next three years, the track also plans to put cameras inside every barn to better monitor horses' safety.
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