Data: Slight Drop in Fatal Racehorse Injuries

Data: Slight Drop in Fatal Racehorse Injuries
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Racing on Keeneland's synthetic surface.
Synthetic surfaces still have the lowest number of catastrophic breakdowns per 1,000 starts, but overall fatalities for all surfaces didn't change much from 2009 to 2011, according to Equine Injury Database statistics.
 
Dr. Tim Parkin of the University of Glasgow presented updated information on the EID Oct. 16 during the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held at Keeneland in Lexington. Parkin has been involved in the EID since it was launched in July 2008.
 
The EID now gets 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."
 
Parkin said 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.
 
Parkin said 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. 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.

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