06/13/2012 12:55PM

Jockey Club devises plan to alert officials when high-risk horses entered


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Jockey Club announced plans on Wednesday to launch a system this August that will send alerts to racing offices when a horse that is deemed to be at high risk of an injury is entered in a race.

The alert, according to the Jockey Club, will be intended to notify the racing office that the horse should be subjected to additional scrutiny during its pre-race veterinary examinations, which are required in nearly every major racing jurisdiction. The criteria that will determine whether a horse is at high risk of an injury will be gleaned from ongoing analyses of a project to collect data on racing injuries that is being administered by the Jockey Club, the organization said.

The alert system is so far the most tangible outgrowth of the injury database, which has collected data on millions of races since being launched in late 2008. So far, analyses of the data have yielded several subsets of horses that are at high risk of injuries compared with the overall horse population, according to Dr. Tim Parkin, the epidemiologist retained by the Jockey Club to conduct the analyses.

“With this system in place, we can identify the population of horses at markedly increased risk, and potentially implement measures to mitigate that risk,” Dr. Parkin said, in a release.

The alert will be sent out through the InCompass suite of racing-office software developed by the Jockey Club that is used at nearly every racetrack in North America.  The alert service will be made available at no additional fee, the Jockey Club said, and tracks will be responsible for how the alert system is implemented and put into practice.

It is anticipated that the alert will be passed on to regulatory veterinarians who are responsible for clearing horses to race. The American Association of Equine Practitioners, a trade group that represents racetrack vets, will work with the Jockey Club to determine the protocols for the pre-race exam for a horse that is the target of an alert, the Jockey Club said.

So far, it is unclear whether the trainer of the horse will be made aware that the computer software tagged the horse for being at a higher risk of injury. A trainer may react negatively to being told that a horse was deemed to be at risk, and it is likely that a trainer will not be notified that the system has called for the horse to be put under additional scrutiny.

According to the most recent analysis of the injury database, horses suffer fatalities at U.S. racetracks at the rate of 1.88 per 1,000 starts. However, that rate can vary widely based on the horse’s past-performance history and the surface over which the race is conducted. For example, the latest analysis showed a statistically significant variation between races conducted on dirt surfaces and races over artificial surfaces, with the fatality rate on dirt surfaces running nearly twice as high as that on artificial surfaces.

In August, Dr. Parkin gave a presentation at the Jockey Club’s Round Table Conference identifying a highly specific subset of horses as being at a much greater risk of injury. That subset was a horse who had not started prior to his 5-year-old year, had made his first start in the last nine months, had made 10 or more starts in the past six months, and had not started in the past 15 days.

Bob Curran, a Jockey Club spokesman, said the criteria for the alerts would continue to be refined as more data is collected.


Cheryl Smith-Bell More than 1 year ago
I didn't think you could start a horse, past a four year old. Am I wrong there? It also could be the fact that there are twice as many track with dirt surfaces, that there are more deaths on dirt, Hmmmmmm? No brains in this one!
Super Poor More than 1 year ago
For example, the latest analysis showed a statistically significant variation between races conducted on dirt surfaces and races over artificial surfaces, with the fatality rate on dirt surfaces running nearly twice as high as that on artificial surfaces. 100% false and like the rest of this tripe it insults the intelligence of a gnat. Some super secret system while the public is blind as to wtf is going on? Givemeaf'inbreakalreadyplease.
Morris More than 1 year ago
to call for the abandonment of the system of claiming races is ludicrous, & definetly comes from a person who has not been around a racing situation where someone other than the trainer clases the horses. the case i call to point is "california quarter horse racing in the late 50s & early 60s, under the rule of ED BURKE. the claiming system allows the trainer to run the horse at a level that he is capabile of winning in. you wont believe the cheating, that went on at the begining of the meet,as the trainers were trying to get their horses classed, as low as possible. in order to get in easy ,for a win. it also puts undue strain on the horses because the stewards c an make a trainer work a horse as many times as they want to in order to get a rating. woo unto the trainer that gets on the bad side of the stewards in these situations. they would make you work a horse until he was soo sore that he couldnt run. i suffered through all of that as a excerise boy too young to get a jockeys license. ( ed burke wouldnt licenseany jockeys until they were 19 yrs. old.) burke would send word to a trainer, "i want to see this horse work again,& i will put a rider on him". it was the un doing of many a horse, to say the least. again i would like to quote bulldog turner of chicago bears fame." if you aint played the game, dont be trying to make the rules". this is why i beg for the sports writers to write about the history of horse racing. dont let the ignorance of the uneducated fans take us back to theways of old. enough said "an ole railbird"
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
First of all if your "in the game" then you should know The US isnt the only place that has horse racing. Other countries can conduct racing without a claiming system. The benefit is 100 fold in the horses favor. If you have see only one system then that all you've got to go on. Ive seen both systems in action and can say the claiming system in the US benefits "owners" and not the horse. "an ole railbird" should know the smartest people in the country arent lining up to get into the horse biz.
Vaughn Stinson More than 1 year ago
I am not convinced that a subset of horses that are at high risk can be identified with the limited data identified. How large was the sample of 5 year olds that met the identified criteria ? Couldn't have been many. Secondly, I am really confused why everyone is still trying to justify the artificial surfaces as being safer for the horses. Arlington, Hollywood, and the Northern California track still don't have larger fields so the logical conclusion is that horses are not competing in more races and are not racing for more years. Keeneland has two very short meets so those horses do not compete for long periods on those surfaces. Turway was the first to install artificial surface and a lot of those horses come from small venue tracks with a smaller purse structure so we know why they compete in KY. We do all we can to make dirt tracks faster which generally means a harder surface like the old California tracks. When the simulcasting began so we could see California racing it was obvious that you started the race going as fast as you could and then limped home and even then average field size was less than 7 or 8. It's still less than 7 or 8 so where is the advantage. Quit trying to justify that artificial stuff and running studies with no reward. Get to the real issues . . . making it profiable to be in the business.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Off point, I know but new Derby entry system just might work...
Joseph Gonzales More than 1 year ago
So I guess this means there will be no racing at Zia Park anymore?
Cougar Paisley More than 1 year ago
There's one horse in particular that races in NY that I have been concerned about. He's yet to break his maiden and he should be running at a much lower level than he's been running in. He's run 14 times since January. At one point earlier in the year he ran four times in 11 days. I wrote a letter to the racing secretary and the track Vet in Aquedect bringing this horse to their attention but nothing ever came of it. He ran last week in a race that was way over his head and thank goodness he's not entered this week. His trainer apparently believes in running and running his horse. It's like they are trying to get the most out of this guy before he breaks. There aren't any workouts listed...it's very frusrating. I know there are many more like this horse. I'm all for something being in place to recognize the horses that are at risk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And then watch the field size drop by 20% because some horses were needlessly scratched to some moron incorrectly interpreting some data. Between this and the removal of lasix, field size will soon plummet to levels never before seen. Then, nobody will bet and there will be more roundtable discussions by the Blue-bloods at the Jockey Club and the other Blue-bloods that run the stud farms as to how to fix the sport they keep messing up. I think it's quite clear what really needs to change and that's the people who are making most of the decisions about racing's future!
Viktoria Ks More than 1 year ago
All horses are at high risk of injury on these inconsistent surfaces. Add the blyte on the racing game that the claiming races create and you have created a whole sub-class of racing that is guaranteed to chew up horses and spit them out to the nearest feedlot or other such inhumane ending.
Tom Hua More than 1 year ago
Did they put an alert on I'll Have Another? He had been away for many months before coming back to Lewis Stakes at 43-1. Would the criteria for alerts include him as part of data collection too? Well, he won 4 big races. Oh, I was at the track that day at Santa Anita. I remember I said to friends I wouldn't take him in the exactas or trifectas, even for free. Well, he ran away with people's money.
Allan Weston More than 1 year ago
And then goes lame 3 starts later , not the best example for your position.
Cate More than 1 year ago
Too bad that we didn't know that his trainers and friends loaded up on I'll have Another in Las Vegas at the pari mutuals at 200-1 to win the Derby.