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Jockey Club releases fatality statistics

The Jockey Club on Friday released an updated North American fatality rate for Thoroughbreds that includes four years' worth of data collected in the Equine Injury Database, the North American database for racing injuries.

Based on an analysis of 1,532,418 starts collected during the four-year period January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2012, the prevalence of race-related fatal injury was 1.92 per 1,000 starts. For individual years, the prevalence of fatal injury per 1,000 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, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database and performed the analysis.

"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 EID 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.
  • Table 1 contains a four-year summary of statistics from the EID stratified by categories of age, surface type and distance.

    The Equine Injury Database contains a suite of reports for racetracks to analyze data collected at their respective facilities. The Jockey Club also maintains a website that enables racetracks to make public their data in a standard, summary fashion here.

    Summaries of fatality statistics for a participating track include the year, number of race days, number of starts, age of the horse, distance of the race and the surface on which the incident occurred. 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 here.

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