Jessica Chapel / Railbird

Equine Injury Database

The Synth Difference

Matt Hegarty reporting from the Racehorse Welfare and Safety Summit:

The latest analysis of the data also continued to show a statistically significant difference between the rate of catastrophic injuries on artificial surfaces when compared with dirt surfaces and turf surfaces. Over the past three years, horses running on synthetic surfaces have suffered catastrophic injuries at a rate of 1.3 per 1,000 starts, whereas horses running on turf had a 1.6 rate and dirt horses had a 2.0 rate, slightly higher than the overall rate of 1.9, according to researchers.

We can’t keep ignoring the facts: Synthetic surfaces are safer. Any serious discussion about or initiative for reducing fatalities must include synthetics.

More to Come

Dr. Rick Arthur tells the Paulick Report:

… the next steps for the Equine Injury Database is a peer-reviewed study by [Dr. Tim Parkin] that could examine many other risk factors: class drops, pedigree, workout patterns, the distribution of injuries, the correlation between injuries and bumping or clipping heels during a race, whether or not horses injured during a race were on a vet’s list.

“We’ll be looking at a lot of the risk factors and try to figure out if there are any strategies that can make racing safer,” he said. “We have all the information that Equibase has, and all the information that the regulatory vets are collecting, including information on injuries that were not fatal. It’s going to be a very powerful tool.”

Odds and Ends

Reactions to the updated equine fatality rates released by the Jockey Club yesterday on Twitter: An experiment with Storify. If there was a theme to the chatter, or to the comments left on this post, it’s that the fatality stats aren’t enough on their own going forward. Now that we know there’s a statistically significant difference between dirt and synthetics, deeper analysis is wanted.

Horse owner Ted Grevelis raises a couple of excellent questions about the TJC stats: “If we don’t know the fatality rates at each racetrack, how can there be any action taken on the results of the study or, more importantly, how can horsemen decide where to perhaps avoid racing in the future?”

Over on R2, Dean considers where storefront OTB bettors will go, and the possibility that many will stop playing. An NYC OTB board member suggested illegal bookies would make a comeback, telling WNYC: “It’ll be a local bookmaker or, from what I understand, they now have a lot of places offshore. But it’s not gonna go away.” The AP seems to have picked up on that, reporting in passing, “That betting apparently is headed to illegal bookmakers, regional OTBs that can now handle city bets more easily, and foreign-based Internet bookmakers.” Apparently? Evidence, please, that bookies and offshores are gaining when legal ADWs and outlets are available. If NYRA does open teletheaters in the city — an opportunity arising from NYC OTB’s closure — it seems even more likely that money will stay in the pool.

A field of ten for the Hollywood Futurity on Saturday, the final graded stakes of the year for juveniles. JP’s Gusto has to prove he can go the distance.

Statistically Significant

With two years of data in the Equine Injury Database, the Jockey Club is out today with updated fatality rates. The overall rate declined to 2.0 per 1000 starts from the 2.04 reported earlier this year. By surface, the rates are 2.14 on dirt (unchanged), 1.74 on turf, and 1.55 on synthetics (down from 1.78):

Parkin noted that the change in the overall fatality rate stemmed from cumulative two-year data that revealed a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of fatality on both turf and synthetic surfaces versus dirt. The difference in the prevalence of fatality between synthetic and turf surfaces was not statistically significant.

Confirms the impression that synthetic surfaces are safer (although the usual caveats apply re: uncertainty of factors such as new track bases, improved vet checks, anecdotal reports of increased non-fatal hind injuries, etc.).

12:55 PM Update: More from Thoroughbred Times: “… horses racing on a synthetic surface were 27.6% less likely to break down …

“A Fairly Simple Thing”

Reports DRF:

Another recommendation arising from the summit’s committees included the modification of the Jockey Club’s existing InCompass racing-office software to automatically identify horses who have been placed on vet’s lists or starter’s lists in other states. According to Peterson, some trainers ship horses out of the state in order to avoid complying with the conditions that are required to remove the horses from the lists, in the hopes that the state is not aware that the horse has been temporarily barred from racing.

“We frequently see horsemen who shop their horses around to other states,” Peterson said. “It’s a fairly simple thing to address.”

Wonderful. And why not take the change a step further? Make the resulting “Disabled List” accessible through the Equibase site so that those interested — fans curious about why a horse hasn’t started in a while, for instance — can more easily get basic information about a horse’s status.

← Before