Officials are crediting a collaborative effort after Kentucky delivered its safest year on record in 2014 in terms of both number of equine breakdowns in races and rate of equine breakdowns.

In 2014 there were 16 catastrophic breakdowns during races at Kentucky Thoroughbred tracks, which is the lowest number since the state began tracking such statistics in 2007. The 16 fatal breakdowns is down 30.4% from the 23 such incidents in 2013, and down 65% when compared with the 40 equine fatalities that occurred during Kentucky Thoroughbred races in 2007.

The state also registered its lowest rate of catastrophic breakdowns, which in 2014 occurred 1.11 times for every 1,000 starts. The rate is 41.5% lower than the 1.9 rate that occurred nationally in 2013 (the most recent year available), according to The Jockey Club Equine Injury Database. The 1.11 rate also is down from the 1.73 rate recorded in Kentucky in 2007.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission equine medical director Mary Scollay, DVM, noted that the big drop compared with 2007 has come through steady progress as rates were about 1.6 in 2008 and 2009, and around 1.4 from 2010-13 before taking another drop this year. Scollay said a collaborative effort has led to the reduction in catastrophic breakdowns.

"There has been a successful collaborative effort in Kentucky that includes horsemen, owners, veterinarians, blacksmiths, racetracks, and the commission to improve the safety and stewardship of our horses," Scollay said. "It’s not a matter of one person doing a big dramatic thing, it’s a matter of everybody doing their part. We’re seeing the benefits of that.&quo