Equine Injury Database: Another Record Year for Safety

POSTED ON  |  03-04-2021

Racing Istock
Racing enjoyed a second straight record year in terms of equine safety in 2020 according to Equine Injury Database data released March 29 by The Jockey Club. According to the EID, the rate of catastrophic injuries in 2020 was 1.41 per 1,000 starts—a record low for the 12 years the rate has been tracked. It's a second straight record low following the rate of 1.53 per 1,000 starts in 2019.

The 2020 rate translates to horses returning home safely—in terms of avoiding such incidents—in 99.86% of starts.

The overall trend for such incidents has been downward since the EID determined a rate of 2.00 incidents per 1,000 starts in 2009. The rate in 2020 is nearly a third lower than that initial rate, down 29.5%. Even compared with the record year in 2019, the catastrophic injury rate declined 7.8% in 2020. 

Key statistics from the 2020 analysis are as follows (figures represent the incidence of racing fatality per 1,000 starts):
By age
  • 2-year-old: 1.69
  • 3-year-old: 1.57
  • 4+-year-old: 1.29
By race distance
  • Less than six furlongs: 1.66
  • Six furlongs-one mile: 1.35
  • Longer than one mile: 1.22
By track surface
  • Dirt: 1.49
  • Turf: 1.27
  • Synthetic: 1.02
For trends of the EID since 2009, please visit jockeyclub.com/pdfs/eid_12_year_tables.pdf.

Two-year-olds have consistently been associated with the lowest incidence of racing fatality since the EID began in 2009. In 2020, the incidence for 2-year-olds was 43% higher than in 2019. Three-year-olds and older horses saw declines of 8% and 14%, respectively, in the incidence of racing fatality per 1,000 starts versus 2019. None of the differences in incidence among age groups were statistically significant.

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