04/09/2008 11:00PM

Injury figures revised


The veterinarian who has been compiling statistics on fatal racetrack injuries for the past year has revised her initial estimates to show that horses running on synthetic surfaces suffer fatal injuries at a lower rate than horses running on dirt surfaces.

Dr. Mary Scollay, the Florida state veterinarian, said she had initially miscalculated the rates just before giving a presentation on March 17 at Keeneland at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. Those figures showed that horses suffered an almost identical rate of injury on synthetic surfaces as dirt surfaces, at 1.95 fatal injuries per 1,000 starts on synthetic tracks, and 1.96 fatal injuries per 1,000 starts on dirt.

The new figures showed 1.47 fatalities per 1,000 starts for synthetic surfaces and 2.03 per 1,000 starts on dirt. Scollay's initial figures appeared to contradict the claims of supporters of synthetic surfaces that the tracks are safer on horses. Many racetracks that have switched to synthetic surfaces had reported individual fatal injury rates that were far lower than the rates for when the tracks used dirt surfaces.

Scollay stressed Thursday that the new figures still do not represent a statistically significant sample set. She said the initial error involved the total number of races used for determining each rate. The figures were collected from 34 racetracks that have provided the injury reports on a confidential basis.

Scollay has been compiling the statistics as part of a project to develop a uniform injury-reporting form for tracks. She said that she is currently migrating the information on the forms to a database developed by The Jockey Club.

Bob Curran, a spokesman for The Jockey Club, which organized the Welfare and Safety Summit, said that the group did not plan to release any updated figures until "we have a comprehensive set of injury reports from a majority of tracks in this country over a statistically significant period of time."