Based on the analysis provided by the Equine Injury Database, it looks like risk factors improvement has led to a decline in the number of catastrophic injuries/1,000 starts from the 2014 racing season to the 2015 racing season.
Equine Injury Database analyst, and University of Glasgow in Scotland senior lecturer, Dr. Tim Parkin noted a significant drop in injuries can be traced back to four changes as part of a presentation he made at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held at Keeneland.
He couldn’t identify the tracks he was discussing because of protocol, but Parkin listed a reduction in number of starts on off tracks (2-9 percent deduction), an increase in time spent with trainer, an increase in numbers of days from previous start, and a decrease (2-4 percent) in number of races that were less than six furlongs as the four main factors in why there have been fewer fatalities.
Equine Injury Database numbers show that the overall fatality rate in 2015 was 1.62/1,000 starts. That number was 1.89 the previous year. Last year, the racing fatalities on dirt surfaces was 1.78/1,000 starts. It was the first time in the seven-year history they’ve tracked the stat that it was under two per 1,000 starts.
“The collective efforts may be starting to bear fruit,” said Parkin. “This is significant improvement with a lot of unknown variables. The more data you have you’re more likely to identify (other) risk factors. We started from a standstill and it’s growing very quickly.”