From 2014 to 2015, the Equine Injury Database reported a 14 percent decrease in fatal injuries occurred in Thoroughbred races. It dropped from 1.89/1,000 starts in 2014 to 1.62/1,000 starts (across all distances, ages, and surfaces) in 2015. That 1.62 number is the lowest equine fatality rate since stats were published by the Equine Injury Database in 2009.
Since the results were made public in 2009, patterns have shown that synthetic surfaces have the lowest fatality rate, then turf, and then dirt. Synthetic surfaces had an equine fatality rate of 1.18/1,000 races; 1.22/1,000 on grass, and 1.78 on dirt. Each course type saw drops from the year before, and the 1.78 number for dirt tracks is the first time it has ever been under 2.00.
“We’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of fatalities and that is certainly very encouraging,” said University of Glasgow veterinarian and epidemiologist Dr. Tim Parkin, who performed the fatality rate analysis. “We will continue to examine data and look for trends, but the wide-ranging safety initiatives embraced by tracks, horsemen, and regulators in recent years have very likely played a role in the reduction of injuries and fatalities.”
The lowest rate of catastrophic injuries belongs to two-year-olds, followed by three-year-olds, and then four years and above.
“These improving fatality rates are clear evidence that we can move the needle and that the efforts of so many are truly bearing fruit,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, who is an equine medical director at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.