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The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.
A prospective cohort design was used to evaluate the effects of abnormal radiographic findings on future racing performance among Thoroughbred yearlings in Texas.
Radiographs from 348 yearlings were examined at the 2002 and 2003 Fasig Tipton yearling sales. Radiographic abnormalities related to developmental orthopedic disease were recorded and researchers then analyzed future racing performance to determine if there was a correlation with starting a race, winning a race, placing in a race and how well a horse performs in racing.
Approximately 34 percent of the yearlings from Texas and 26 percent of yearlings from other states had abnormal radiographic changes on their X-rays. Sale prices were lower for horses with lesions at the proximal sagittal ridge of the distal cannon bone, but overall the presence of radiographic abnormalities did not affect sale price. None of the abnormalities were linked to racing performance during the 2- or 3-year-old years.
This is the second study of this type to suggest the most common radiographic changes in yearlings have little if any effect on future racing performance. Although these studies did not account for surgical intervention or other treatments prior to or during racing, they suggest many radiographic changes in yearlings can be properly managed to minimize their effect on racing performance.
—Cohen et al. JEVS 2006;26:462-474.