Equine Fatality Rate Continues Decline, Dips Slightly in 2021

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Coady

An analysis of data from the 13th year of reporting to the Equine Injury Database (EID) shows a decrease in the rate of fatal injury in 2021 (1.39 per 1,000 starts) compared to 2020 (1.41 per 1,000 starts), The Jockey Club announced Tuesday. This is the third year in a row that the number has decreased, and the 2021 rate of fatal injury is the lowest number since the EID started collecting data in 2009. The risk of fatal injury in 2021 declined 1.4% from 2020 and has dropped 30.5% overall since 2009.

Based on the 2021 data, 99.86% of flat racing starts at the racetracks participating in the EID were completed without a fatality. For trends of the EID since 2009, click here.

For 2-year-olds, the fatality rate in 2021 was 0.98, while 3-year-olds showed a 1.52 fatality rate and 4-year-olds and up came in at 1.38. The 0.98 figure for juveniles is the lowest on record by age and the first time the fatality rate for 2-year-olds has dropped below 1.0 per 1,000.

Route races continued to be safer compared to sprints, as races beyond a mile showed a 1.19 fatality rate compared to 1.46 for six-to-eight-furlong races and 1.35 for races shorter than six panels. Synthetic races produced just 0.73 fatalities per 1,000 starts, while dirt racing had 1.51 and turf racing 1.25. There has been a statistically significant drop overall since 2009 in the risk of fatal injury across all surfaces: dirt (28.1%), turf (35.6%), and synthetic (51%). The synthetic fatality rate was below 1.0 for the second time and is the lowest since 2009.

“We provided this database as a service to the industry, and we are pleased that it is proving to be an invaluable asset in learning more about keeping our athletes safe,” said Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “The downward trends in the EID data are very encouraging, and I'd like to thank the participating racetracks and official veterinarians for working with us and making this critical data available.”

Since March 2012, racetracks have been able to voluntarily publish their statistics from the EID on The Jockey Club website. The racetracks that publish their EID statistics reported racing fatalities per 1,000 starts of 1.15 as compared to 1.54 for those that do not publish.

The 22 racetracks accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance reported 1.24 racing fatalities per 1,000 starts versus 1.50 for the 58 non-accredited tracks that raced in 2021 and reported to the EID.

The EID statistics are based on injuries that resulted in fatalities within 72 hours from the date of the race. The statistics are for official Thoroughbred races only and exclude steeplechase races. Summary statistics for the EID are subject to change due to a number of considerations, including reporting timeliness. All data entered into the EID goes through a multilevel quality control process to ensure the data is completely and accurately reported.

The list of racetracks participating in the EID and detailed statistics from those tracks that voluntarily publish their results can be found here.
Throughout the course of 2021, approximately 99% of all Thoroughbred starts were included in the EID.

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