Data: 'Slight Drop' in Fatal Racehorse Injuries

Data: 'Slight Drop' in Fatal Racehorse Injuries

Synthetic surfaces still have the lowest number of catastrophic breakdowns per 1,000 starts when compared to dirt and turf tracks, but overall fatalities for all surfaces didn't change much from 2009 to 2011.

Photo: The Horse Staff

Synthetic surfaces still have the lowest number of catastrophic breakdowns per 1,000 starts when compared to dirt and turf tracks, but overall fatalities for all surfaces didn't change much from 2009 to 2011, according to Equine Injury Database (EID) statistics.

Tim Parkin, BSc, BVSc, PhD, DECVPH, MRCVS, senior research fellow in Large Animal Clinical Sciences and Public Health at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, presented updated information on the EID Oct. 16 during the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Parkin has been involved in the EID since it was launched in July 2008.

The EID now collects information from 94 racetracks representing 92% of all flat racing days and 100% of steeplechase meets in North America. The database has accumulated more than 42,000 records, Parkin said.

For calendar year 2011, the catastrophic injury rate was 1.9 per 1,000 starts on all surfaces, according to the EID. The rate was the lowest for synthetic surfaces at 1.3 per 1,000, a bit higher for turf courses at 1.6 per 1,000, and the highest for dirt tracks at more than 2 breakdowns per 1,000 starts.

Parkin said there was an overall slight drop in the breakdown rate from 2009, but that it wasn't statistically significant.

He relayed that the most recent research has focused on the claiming race subset in the database. The stats were compiled using multiple factors including horse age, sex, purse-to-claiming-price ratio, and frequency of starts.

The data showed the breakdown rate for races with a purse-to-claiming-pricing ratio of 1.8 or higher was 2.4 times higher than the rate for races with a purse-to-price ratio of zero to 1.3, Parkin said. Horses taking a claiming price drop of $12,000 or less were 2.5 times more likely to suffer a lower limb fracture than those that maintained their price; the breakdown rate was 3 times higher of the drop in claiming price was more than $12,000.

The idea is to identify risk factors that can also assist in pre-race examinations, Parkin said of the EID research and future models for the data.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners