Eric Mitchell, editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse, shares his thoughts on the recently completed Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. Share your thoughts on Eric’s blog on BloodHorse.com.


Recently completed at Keeneland Race Course is what has become one of Thoroughbred racing’s most important annual events–the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.

The first summit held in 2006 seeded many ideas that have since matured into meaningful programs and policies. One of the most important results has been the Equine Injury Database (EID).

Now armed with meaningful statistics on racehorse fatalities, racetracks can further enhance pre-race veterinary inspections by identifying "horses of interest." The 40,286 records collected from 89 racetracks running flat races plus those from the National Steeplechase Association from 2008 through 2010 have revealed a statistical connection between catastrophic lower limb fractures and seven risk factors, according to Dr. Tim Parkin (BSc, BVSc, PhD, DECVPH, MRCVS) of the University of Glasgow in Scotland. These risk factors are age, whether the runner is an intact male, ratio of claiming price to purse, size of drop in claiming price (particularly a double drop in claiming price) since the last race, multiple races within two weeks, number of starts within the previous 15-30 days, and being within three races of a break of 180 days or more.

These risk factors serve a double purpose. Not only do they create a profile