Stats Look at Fatal Injuries Over Two Years

Catastrophic injuries declined slightly according to statistics released Dec. 15.

An analysis of statistics compiled by the Equine Injury Database for a two-year period shows a slight decline in the number of catastrophic injuries from the first year of the period, officials said Dec. 15.

Based on an analysis of 754,932 starts collected from Nov. 1, 2008, through Oct. 31, 2010, the prevalence of fatal injury declined to 2.00 per 1,000 starts compared with the 2.04 rate reported in March for the one-year period from Nov. 1, 2008-Oct. 31, 2009.

Dr. Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow who has been involved in the EID for more than a year, performed the analysis for The Jockey Club. Parkin said the change in the fatality rate stemmed from data that revealed a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of fatality on both turf and synthetic surfaces versus dirt; the difference in the prevalence of fatality between synthetic and turf surfaces was not statistically significant.

According to the analysis for the two-year period, the catastrophic injury rate per 1,000 starts on dirt was 2.14; on turf, 1.74; and on synthetic surfaces, 1.55. For the first one-year period, the fatality rate per 1,000 starts was 2.14 for dirt, 1.78 for turf, and 1.78 for synthetic surfaces.

Statistics only for the second year of the period weren't included in The Jockey Club release.

“The addition of 376,000 starts to the database in year two enabled us to statistically validate certain trends seen in the data,” Parkin said in a statement. “Trends will continue to emerge and evolve as additional data becomes available for study and as more complex statistical analyses are performed. This will allow us to understand how different variables, alone and in concert, may impact the risk of fatality.”

The Jockey Club released statistics that show the breakdown of fatalities according to age of the racehorse. Two-year-olds had the lowest incidence at 1.51 per 1,000 starts, and 5-year-olds the highest at 2.45.

The fatality rate gradually increased from age 2 to age 5, then declined for age 6 and ages 7 and older, according to the statistics.

Other trends from the study, Parkin said, include the prevalence of fatality in 2-year-olds continued to be significantly lower than older horses racing on dirt surfaces, but on synthetic or turf surfaces, there was no statistically significant difference in the prevalence of fatality between 2-year-olds and older horses.

In addition, the prevalence of fatality continued to be unaffected by distance, weight carried, and movement of races off the turf, and fillies and mares competing in races that were open to horses of all sexes were not at an increased risk of fatality compared with those competing in races restricted to fillies and mares.

“We will continue to publish these national benchmarks on an annual basis to provide the necessary statistical foundation participating racetracks need for monitoring and comparing their individual results,” said Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club.

Bob Curran, vice president of corporate communications for The Jockey Club, said 87 racetracks now provide injury information to the database. They account for about 90% of flat racing days in North America, he said.

Curran said reports on the statistics will be issued probably once a year going forward.