JC / Railbird


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 …

2.04 per 1000

On first reading, I thought there was an error in the headline of the press release: “Equine Injury Database Statistic Released by The Jockey Club.” But no, the Jockey Club did release just one statistic, and it is a sobering figure:

Based upon a year’s worth of data beginning November 1, 2008, from 378,864 total starts in Thoroughbred flat races at 73 racetracks … 2.04 fatal injuries were recorded per 1,000 starts.

TJC did not report the actual number of deaths, but the Courier-Journal did the math, coming up with:

… about 773 horse deaths, or an average of nearly 15 fatal injuries a week.

For comparison, the New York Times offers:

In England, for example, the average risk of fatality ranges from 0.8 to 0.9 per 1,000 starts. In Victoria, Australia, studies reported the risk of fatality from 1989 to 2004 at 0.44 per 1,000 starts.

More detailed data, although not track-by-track stats, will be released at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in June.

After →