Equine Injury Database: Rate of fatalities in racing up slightly in 2023

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Feb. 27, 2024

The rate of fatal injury in Thoroughbred races in 2023 was up slightly from 2022 but it was the second-lowest since the 2009 launch of the Equine Injury Database, The Jockey Club reported Feb. 27.

Last year’s rate of 1.32 per 1,000 starts was up 5.6% from the 2022 rate of 1.25 per 1,000 starts—the lowest figure since 2009. The rate covers dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces in total. For four consecutive years the rate has been below 1.5% per 1,000 starts.

The analysis of the EID was provided by Professor Tim Parkin of the University of Bristol and Dr. Euan Bennet of the University of Glasgow. Parkin has been an analyst of the date since the 2009 launch.

“There was a slight increase in the rate of fatality from 2022 to 2023,” Parkin said in a release. “However, this is not statistically significant, and we are encouraged by the low numbers in 2023 that the industry is still headed in the right direction with regard to keeping its horses safe.”

Based on the 2023 data, 99.87% of flat racing starts at the racetracks participating in the EID were completed without a fatality. Throughout the course of 2023, approximately 99% of all Thoroughbred starts were included in the EID.

The 2023 rates by surface are as follows: turf (1.13), dirt (1.43) and synthetic (0.97). In 2022, the rates were: turf (0.99), dirt (1.44) and synthetic (0.41).

Annual statistics from the Equine Injury Database (2009-23)

When compared with 2009 (2.0 fatalities per 1,000 starts), 2023 reflects a 34% decrease in risk of fatal injury. “This is equivalent to 171 fewer horses sustaining a fatal injury racing in 2023 than would have occurred had the number of starts remained constant since 2009,” Parkin said.

The 2023 rates by age are as follows: 2-year-olds (0.79), 3-year-olds (1.37) and 4-year-olds and older (1.38).

Since March 2012, racetracks have been able to voluntarily publish their statistics from the EID on The Jockey Club website. The racetracks that publish their EID statistics reported racing fatalities per 1,000 starts of 1.07 as compared with 1.50 for those that do not publish, The Jockey Club said.

The list of tracks that participate in the EID and links to data from those that publish stats is available here,

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Feb. 27 issued a separate release on the EID statistics. HISA said racetracks under its jurisdiction had a fatality rate of 1.23 per 1,000 starts, and that “the methodologies and criteria for reporting HISA’s and The Jockey Club’s rates are identical, with the caveat that The Jockey Club’s 2022 and 2023 rates include data from Thoroughbred racetracks in the United States currently operating outside of HISA’s jurisdiction.

Not included in the HiSA figure are Louisiana, Nebraska, Texas and West Virginia.

The EID statistics are based on injuries that resulted in fatalities within 72 hours from the date of the race. The statistics are for official Thoroughbred races only and exclude steeplechase races.

Summary statistics for the EID are subject to change due to a number of considerations, including reporting timeliness. All data entered into the EID goes through a multilevel quality control process to ensure the data is completely and accurately reported, the release said.