Posted: March 23, 2019
The overall catastrophic injury rate in Thoroughbred racing increased 4.34% in 2018 compared with 2017, according to Equine Injury Database statistics released by The Jockey Club March 22.
The rate for racing on dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces combined was 1.68 per 1,000 starts, up from 1.61 the previous year. Racing fatalities on dirt were 1.86 per 1,000 starts (1.74 in 2017); on turf, the figure was 1.20 (1.36 last year); and for synthetic surfaces, there were 1.23 catastrophic injuries per 1,000 starts versus 1.10 the previous year.
Professor Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow and consultant to the EID, performed the analysis. He concluded that the year-over-year aggregate increase was not statistically significant, according to a release.
“Analysis of the EID has demonstrated that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the risk of fatal injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses,” Parkin said. “Moving forward, we should focus on the medications present in horses during racing and training, transparency of veterinary records for all starters, and the collection of injury data from morning training hours.”
The EID was launched in 2008 as a result of discussions at the first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. Since 2009 the fatality rate has been reduced on all surfaces: 38% on turf, 17% on synthetic surfaces and 11% on dirt.
The statistics are based on information from racetracks that agree to participate in the program. The Jockey Club said it expects tracks that account for 98% of flat racing days to contribute their statistics on catastrophic injuries. Since record-keeping began, 109 tracks in the United States and Canada have participated; 30 make their data public each year.
The EID in large part is used to identify markers for at-risk horses and serve as a resource for research aimed at reducing injuries.
The following are the average fatality rates per 1,000 starts for 2009-18 in total for three categories:
All surfaces: 1.80
Less than 6 furlongs: 2.06
6 furlongs to 8 furlongs (one mile): 1.74
8 furlongs (one mile) or more: 1.65
2 year olds: 1.37
3 year olds: 1.79
4-year-olds and up: 1.86
The release said the tracks that make public their fatality rates and also are accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance have the lowest catastrophic injury rate (1.45 per 1,000 starts) on average.