Equine Fatality Rate Declines For Fourth Consecutive Year

by | 03.10.2017 | 9:45am

An analysis of data from the Equine Injury Database (EID) has shown a reduction in the rate of fatal injury for a fourth consecutive year and a 23 percent drop since 2009, The Jockey Club announced today.

When comparing 2016 statistics to 2015 statistics across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the rate dropped from 1.62 per 1,000 starts in 2015 to 1.54 per 1,000 starts in 2016. The overall rate of 1.54 per 1,000 starts is the lowest since the Equine Injury Database started publishing annual statistics in 2009.

Statistical Summary from 2009 to 2016
Thoroughbred Only
Calendar Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Rate 2.00 1.88 1.88 1.92 1.90 1.89 1.62 1.54


Dr. Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database, once again performed the analysis.

“One of the primary objectives of this project from the outset was to build a comprehensive data source we could utilize to improve safety and prevent injuries, and we are now clearly achieving that goal,” said Dr. Parkin. “The racetracks, the horsemen, and the regulators who have implemented safety initiatives over this time period deserve a great deal of credit for this encouraging trend.”

On dirt, there has been a 19 percent drop since 2009.

On turf, there has been a 44 percent drop since 2009.

The rate on synthetic surfaces, according to Parkin, has remained stable since 2010, hovering in the 1.0 to 1.2 per 1,000 starts range.

A graph depicting all updated statistical data pertaining to surface, distance, and age is available at jockeyclub.com/pdfs/eid_8_year_tables.pdf.

“The sport, as a collective entity, has made a sustained difference that should serve as motivation to continue the search for new safety and welfare initiatives and to permanently eliminate the usage of 'part of the game' from the lexicon when discussing equine injuries,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, the equine medical director for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a consultant to the EID.

The EID statistics are based on injuries that resulted in fatalities within 72 hours from the date of the race. The statistics are for Thoroughbreds only and exclude races over jumps from the calculations. Summary statistics for the EID are subject to change due to a number of considerations, including reporting timeliness.

Since March 2012, racetracks have been able to voluntarily publish their statistics from the EID in the Safety Initiatives section of The Jockey Club website. There are 25 tracks that self-reported during 2016 and their aggregate rate was 1.41.

The list of racetracks participating in the Equine Injury Database and detailed statistics from those tracks that voluntarily publish their results can be found at: jockeyclub.com/default.asp?section=Advocacy&area=11.

Throughout the course of 2017, racetracks accounting for approximately 96 percent of flat racing days are expected to contribute data to the EID.

The NTRA issued the following statement regarding the 2016 Equine Injury Report:

“The Jockey Club analysis of data from the 2016 Equine Injury Database showing a 23 percent decline in equine fatalities in Thoroughbred races since 2009 demonstrates that our industry's efforts to promote stricter safety standards and national uniformity in medication usage are proving to be effective. Even so, protecting and advocating for our equine athletes is a pursuit that never ends. The NTRA will continue to lead industry efforts to promote equine health and safety on several fronts, most notably through the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance, which accredits racetracks based on their adherence to best practices in areas including injury prevention, and our lead role in the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC), the industry's coordinated effort to develop and promote uniform medication rules, penalties, policies and testing standards at the national level.”

– Alex Waldrop
President and CEO, National Thoroughbred Racing Association
Chairman, Racing Medication & Testing Consortium

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