The number of race-related fatalities among North American thoroughbreds over a four-year period stood at 1.92 per 1000 starts, according to figures released on Friday.
The United States Jockey Club released an updated North American fatality rate for thoroughbreds that includes four years’ worth of data collected from tracks that have signed up to participate in the Equine Injury Database, the North American database for racing injuries.
Based on an analysis of 1,532,418 starts from January 1, 2009, until December 31, 2012, the prevalence of race-related fatal injury was 1.92 per 1000 starts.
For individual years, the prevalence of fatal injury per 1000 starts was 2.00 for 2009, 1.88 for 2010, 1.88 for 2011, and 1.92 for 2012.
“The causes of racing injuries are often very complex and involve multiple factors interacting together over time,” said Dr Tim Parkin, who performed the analysis. He is a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database.
“While the fatality rate has remained fairly static over the course of the past four years, the real significance today is that, with 1.5 million starts in the database, we have now established a baseline and we can begin to analyze the relationships between each of the individual factors.
“In the future, we will be able to design interventions based on these data and recommend actions that will reduce injuries and fatalities.”
Only injuries that result in fatality within 72 hours or less from the date of race are included in the national figures. It should also be noted that statistics from previous years are sometimes updated due to the addition of tracks or corrections in the fatality data originally submitted by participating racetracks.
Parkin’s analysis also found that:
- There continues to be a reduction in the risk of fatality on synthetic surfaces.
- The risk of fatality on synthetic surfaces was significantly lower than the risk of fatality on turf surfaces, which was significantly lower than the risk of fatality on dirt surfaces.
- Female horses were at no greater risk of fatality when racing against males than they are when racing against other females.
- Two-year-olds were at significantly reduced risk of fatality compared to older horses when racing on dirt.
- Moving a race off the turf onto dirt or synthetic surfaces does not increase the risk of fatality.
A list of racetracks that have signed up to participate in the Equine Injury Database, including those who are now reporting their statistics publicly, can be found at jockeyclub.com/initiatives.asp.