Racehorse fatalities are at historic lows, according to an annual analysis of data from more than 100 tracks in the United States and Canada.
The fatality rates are at all-time lows for 3-year-old horses, for races longer than 8 furlongs, and across all surface types, reports The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database (EID).
“The data shows that since 2009, the risk of fatal injury during racing has declined by 37.5%, which is statistically significant,” says Tim Parkin, a professor at the University of Bristol, who analyzed the data with Dr. Euan Bennet of the University of Glasgow. “The overall downward trends are a testament to the benefits of an evidence-based approach to safety, which is only possible thanks to the EID.”
The fatal injury rate in 2022 is down 1.25 fatalities per 1,000 starts compared with 1.39 in 2021. It’s the fourth straight year that fatalities have decreased, and the third consecutive year that rate has stayed below 1.5. It’s the first time that the rate is below 1.3 since the EID’s inaugural report in 2009.
“We can say with confidence that the risk of fatal injury is heading in a sustained downward direction, both overall and in many specific areas,” says Parkin, who has consulted on EID since its genesis. “The 6-month period from July 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2022, was the safest 6-month period on record since the inception of the EID in 2009. This evidence of positive progress is very encouraging and should be applauded by everyone in North American racing.”
The fatalities among horses 4 years and older are the highest in racing at 1.34, followed by 3-year-olds at 1.13 and 2-year-olds at 0.98.
As races get longer, the fatality rate decreases, according to the data. Races greater than 8 furlongs have a fatality rate of 0.86. Races 6-8 furlongs increase to 1.31, while races shorter than 6 furlongs are 1.38.
Synthetic track surfaces recorded the lowest fatality rates at 0.41. Turf and dirt tracks recorded fatality rates of 0.99 and 1.44, respectively.
More than 100 racetracks voluntarily publish their statistics to the EID. Those that report voluntarily have a 0.99 fatality rate. Those that do not voluntarily publish have a rate of 1.42.
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