Churchill Downs horse manure leaves Louisville area “stinky”

Churchill Downs horse manure dumping leaves Louisville neighborhood "stinky"

We are used to the smell as we walk around the barns on Churchill Downs backside but no one expects to run into horse manure on Fern Valley Road in Louisville. But truckloads of horse manure produced by the thoroughbred horses were removed from a vacant lot near one of Louisville’s busiest streets this week. The tons of manure came from Churchill Downs.

It is thought to have been dumped there by a worker for a company that has a contract to remove the waste from Churchill Downs. That same company removed it Tuesday, but some questions stuill remain unanswered about exactly how and why it ended up there.

The familiar steam rising from piles of manure could be seen as men used heavy equipment to load the manure into trucks and haul it away. The manure-filled hay was dumped in recent weeks on this vacant commercial lot.

The property’s caretaker Rick Cook says whoever dumped it removed a security chain and left it without the permission of the owner. “If it was in the country and you were placing it on a field for organic compost, that’d be one story. To put it on the ground in an area like this, it’s just kind of unheard of,” Cook said.

The pile was about a hundred yards away from a Holiday Inn. Not fun for the hotel occupants.

There was so much manure, Cook knew it had to come from Churchill Downs, where hundreds of the world’s top thoroughbreds use tons of hay and produce tons of manure during spring and fall meets. Employees of Equine Organic, LLC, the company hired to remove the waste from Churchill Downs, were cleaning it up.

WHAS11 (Louisville TV station) reached the company’s owner by phone, who told them that he learned one of his employees admitted dumping the manure after claiming someone told him to leave it there. The company, which pays employees by loads delivered, could not verify his story.

That’s why Cook thinks the steaming pile ended up where it did. “It’s just a quick place to dump and get back,” Cook said.

Equine Organic has had a contract with Churchill Downs for 10 years, removing 25 to 30 truckloads a week. The owner says there has never been a problem involving dumping before this one and says most of the waste is given or sold to farming operations, which use it as fertilizer.