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Body found at Churchill Downs; death ruled homicide

The discovery of a man's body in the stable area of Churchill Downs was being investigated as a homicide. Msnbc's Alex Witt reports.

Updated at 11:53 p.m. ET: LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Foul play is suspected in the death of a man whose body was found in a barn behind Churchill Downs just hours after the Kentucky Derby was run at the track.

Police have ruled the death a homicide, Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman  Alicia Smiley said Sunday.

The victim was identified Sunday as 48-year-old Adan Fabian Perez, a Guatemala native, according to Jo-Ann Farmer, chief deputy coroner for Jefferson County.

Farmer said he was identified by his 19-year-old son, who also works at the track.


"At this point we don't have anything pointing to the fact that this had any association with Churchill Downs or the Derby itself," Smiley said.

"He did sustain injuries that lead us to believe he was involved in some type of altercation," Smiley added.

"Our investigation is ongoing as to why he would have specifically been at this location."

Authorities received a call shortly before 5 a.m. on Sunday reporting a body found in a barn not far from where I'll Have Another, the horse that won Saturday's race, was stabled.

There were no obvious signs of a struggle. Smiley said evidence at the scene led investigators to believe the death was a homicide. She did not elaborate.

She said Sunday evening that police "still do not have suspect information at this point."

An autopsy was planned for Monday to determine the cause of death.

The body was found in a barn occupied by Louisville trainer Angel Montano Sr., Smiley said. Montano did not have a horse in Saturday's derby.

Montano's barn is just four away — about 150 yards — from where I'll Have Another is kept.

A telephone call, text and Twitter message left by The Associated Press for Montano were not immediately returned.

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On Saturday, I'll Have Another, ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, won the 138th running of the tradition-rich Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in a stunning finish before a record crowd of more than 165,000 people.

About 200 people live at Churchill Downs at any given time — either in dormitories on the edge of the property or in small apartments above some of the barns themselves.

About a week after the Kentucky Derby last year, jockey Michael Baze's body was found in a vehicle near the stables at the famed Louisville track. His death was ruled an accidental overdose.
 
The Associated Press and NBC News' Michelle Franzen contributed to this story.

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