Fatal Horse-Racing Injuries Lower on Synthetic TracksBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 3, 2011
Statistics continue to shift as to racing fatalities on dirt, turf, and artificial track surfaces. The most recent figures from the Equine Injury Database showed 1.55 fatalities per 1,000 starts on synthetic surfaces compared to 2.14 per 1,000 starts on dirt surfaces for the 754,932 starts occurring in the two-year period that ended October 31, 2010.
Numbers from only the first half of this period showed a fatality rate for dirt was 2.14 compared to 1.78 for synthetic surfaces. For races on turf, numbers were similar, with 1.78 fatalities for the one-year period and 1.74 fatalities for the two-year period per 1,000 starts. Overall fatalities for the two-year period were 2.00 per 1,000 starts.
Other figures revealed that two-year-olds had the lowest incidence of catastrophic injury at 1.51 per 1,000 starts. The number increased as horses aged, topping out at 2.45 for five-year-old horses, and then declined for horses aged six or older.
The risk of fatal race injuries was not related to distance run or weight carried. There was also no increased risk when mares or fillies ran against males. The study defined a fatal breakdown as an injury that led to the horse's death, whether this happened on the track, in the stable after the race, or at some point after veterinary care of the injury had been given.