Fatal Thoroughbred Racehorse Injuries Decline by 14% in 2015

Fatal Thoroughbred Racehorse Injuries Decline by 14% in 2015

The overall fatality rate of 1.62 per 1,000 starts is the lowest since the Equine Injury Database started publishing annual statistics in 2009.

Photo: Photos.com

An analysis of data from the Equine Injury Database, comparing 2015 statistics with figures from 2014, has shown a 14% decrease in the frequency of fatal injury to Thoroughbred racehorses, The Jockey Club announced March 22.

Across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the fatality rate dropped from 1.89 per 1,000 starts in 2014 to 1.62 per 1,000 starts in 2015. The overall fatality rate of 1.62 per 1,000 starts is the lowest since the Equine Injury Database started publishing annual statistics in 2009.

Tim Parkin, BSc, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ECVPH, MRCVS, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database, once again performed the analysis.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of fatalities and that is certainly very encouraging,” Parkin said. “We will continue to examine data and look for trends, but the wide-ranging safety initiatives embraced by tracks, horsemen, and regulators in recent years have very likely played a role in the reduction of injuries and fatalities.”

The fatality rates associated with each racing surface were as follows:

  • On turf surfaces, there were 1.22 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.75 in 2014.
  • On dirt surfaces, there were 1.78 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 2.02 in 2014.
  • On synthetic surfaces, there were 1.18 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.20 in 2014.

Fatality rates based on distance and age were also examined.

An analysis of 2015 race distance statistics shows that shorter races (less than 6 furlongs) were again associated with higher injury rates versus middle distance races (6 to 8 furlongs) and long races (more than 8 furlongs). This has been consistent each year over the seven-year span.

Two-year-olds continued the trend of having the lowest rate of catastrophic injuries while 3-year-olds had a lower rate of catastrophic injuries than horses 4 years old and older.

The statistics are based on injuries that resulted in fatalities within 72 hours from the date of the race. Summary statistics are subject to change due to a number of considerations, including reporting timeliness.

A graph depicting all updated statistical data pertaining to surface, distance, and age is available at jockeyclub.com/pdfs/eid_7_year_tables.pdf.

“When we first starting collecting data in 2007, we realized that the more data we obtained and analyzed, the more we would learn,” said Mary Scollay,, DVM the equine medical director for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a consultant to the Equine Injury Database. “These improving fatality rates are clear evidence that we can move the needle and that the efforts of so many are truly bearing fruit.”

Added Jockey Club president and chief operating officer James L. Gagliano, “This database was created with the goal of improving safety and preventing injuries, and we are now doing that thanks to the participation and cooperation of so many racetracks. We applaud all tracks that have contributed data to this project, and we are especially grateful to those who have chosen to make their statistics publicly available on the Equine Injury Database website.”

A list of racetracks participating in the Equine Injury Database and detailed statistics from those tracks that voluntarily publish their results can be found at jockeyclub.com/default.asp?section=Advocacy&area=11.

Throughout the course of 2016, racetracks accounting for 96% of flat racing days are expected to contribute to the database.

The Equine Injury Database, conceived at the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, was launched by The Jockey Club in July 2008 and seeks to identify the frequencies, types, and outcomes of racing injuries using a standardized format that generates valid statistics, identifies markers for horses at increased risk of injury, and serves as a data source for research directed at improving safety and preventing injuries.

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