Thoroughbred owners and care-takers will soon have a new study to be looking for. The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (KTA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) are funding a study focusing on the predictors of catastrophic injury in Thoroughbreds.

The study’s aim is to identify horses at risk of serious injury through use of mRNA expression analysis of their blood samples. From previous research, it is believed that Thoroughbreds that experience a catastrophic injury during a race will demonstrate multiple pre-race differences in mRNA expression when compared with non-injured racing horses. 

“Collective industry knowledge on novel scientific methods looking for internal and external variables in order  to reduce catastrophic injury is a step in the right direction,” says Chauncy Morris, executive director of the KTA. “[The] research should provide our Thoroughbred racehorse owners and their trainers and veterinarians a critical and valuable diagnostic tool…”

In recent years, Thoroughbred fatal injuries have been dropping, both in Australia and the United States, according to the Jockey Club and the Equine Injury Database

“TOBA and KTA are both committed to the health and safety of our Thoroughbred athletes and we are encouraged by the progress being made by Dr. [Allen] Page and his colleagues,” says Dan Metzger, TOBA president. TOBA’s mission is to improve the economics, integrity and pleasure of horseracing for Thoroughbred owners and breeders. As such, TOBA manages several Thoroughbred focused projects. 

The KTA is a horseman’s group and trade association representing Thoroughbred horses in Kentucky. The state is the largest contributor of Thoroughbred foals in the world. 

The study is being conducted at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center. Previous research at the Gluck Center developed an approach for identifying horses at risk of injury using the mRNA analysis, along with studying horse’s white blood cells. Both studies were conducted by Page and Dr. David Horohov, with Dr. Emma Adam joining the two for the new study. 

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