Racing fatalities down by 14% in North America for 2015

Across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the fatality rate of North American gallopers dropped to 1.62 per 1000 starts in 2015.
Across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the fatality rate of North American gallopers dropped to 1.62 per 1000 starts in 2015.

Racing’s North American governing body has announced a 14% decrease in fatal injuries in 2015 from the previous year, with dirt tracks again responsible for the greatest number of fatalities.

The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database has revealed that last year’s overall fatality rate of 1.62 per 1000 starts is the lowest since it started publishing annual statistics in 2009.

Across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the fatality rate dropped from 1.89 per 1000 starts in 2014 to 1.62 per 1000 starts in 2015.

Dr Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database, 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:

  • On turf surfaces, there were 1.22 fatalities per 1000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.75 in 2014.
  • On dirt surfaces, there were 1.78 fatalities per 1000 starts in 2015, compared to 2.02 in 2014.
  • On synthetic surfaces, there were 1.18 fatalities per 1000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.20 in 2014.

Shorter races (less than 6 furlongs; 1200m) were again associated with higher injury rates versus middle-distance races (6 to 8 furlongs; 1200-1600m) and long races (more than 8 furlongs; 1600m). 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 three-year-olds had a lower rate of catastrophic injuries than horses four 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.

All updated statistical data pertaining to surface, distance, and age is available here.

racing-jockey“When we first starting collecting data in 2007, we realized that the more data we obtained and analyzed, the more we would learn,” said Dr Mary Scollay, the equine medical director for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a consultant to the EID.

“These improving fatality rates are clear evidence that we can move the needle and that the efforts of so many are truly bearing fruit.”

Jockey Club president and chief operating officer James L. Gagliano applauded the tracks that contributed data to the project.

“We are especially grateful to those who have chosen to make their statistics publicly available on the EID website.”

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

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