Though this seems obvious when you really think about it, there’s nothing like an objective report to drive the harsh reality home: modern horse racing makes NASCAR seem like knitting:
Based upon a year’s worth of data beginning November 1, 2008, from 378,864 total starts in Thoroughbred flat races at 73 racetracks participating in the Equine Injury Database, 2.04 fatal injuries were recorded per 1,000 starts.
Um, wow. Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? If we assume that the average thoroughbred race is 1.5 miles—the same distance as the Kentucky Derby—and that a dozen horses participate in each race, that translates into a death rate of approximately one per 9,000 miles run. The mortality rate for sled dogs in competitive rates such as the Iditarod, by contrast, has been estimated at one per 1.3 million miles traveled.
So, pretty gruesome statistics, and something that the horse-racing industry will have to address—either through the increased use of synthetic tracks, which appear to cause fewer leg breaks, or tighter restrictions on drugs.
(Image via this excellent Flickr stream)