LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A homicide investigation is under way after a man's body was found inside Barn 8 in the backside area of Churchill Downs just before 5 a.m. on Sunday.
The Jefferson County Coroner said Adan Fabian Perez, 48 — a groomer from Guatemala — was found dead Sunday morning.
Homicide detectives said Perez's injuries indicate he was involved in some sort of altercation, the nature of which is unknown.
"Our homicide detectives got to the scene and they were able to determine that there was foul play involved. However, we still don’t have an exact cause of death. So, we'll await the coroner's report for those details,” said Louisville Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Alicia Smiley.
Angel Montano owns Barn 8. He told WHAS-TV that his worker discovered the body, but he did not know the victim.
“The barns themselves have various stalls for the horses. He was found in the barn and not in the stall with a horse or anything," Smiley said.
Police said there was no evidence of struggle in the barn and Perez's cause of death was not immediately obvious.
“Everyone was excited about the Derby. So, it was like a regular party scene, people drinking, having fun and having a good time,” said barn worker Keegan Murray.
“At this point we don’t have anything pointing to the fact that this would have had any association with Churchill Downs or the Derby itself," Smiley said.
Some people are speculating about what may happen at Churchill Downs in the aftermath of the investigation.
“I think you're going to see even more security on the back side, and more watchfulness on the part of the track. Because it's not only a human tragedy when something happens like this, but it's bad business for the track,” said Courier Journal columnist Eric Crawford.
Police do not have any suspects. An autopsy is expected on Monday.