In an effort to generate accurate, national statistics of racing injuries, more than 30 racetracks implemented a uniform, on-track equine injury reporting system in June.
The reporting system was developed Dr. Mary Scollay, association veterinarian at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park, both in Florida. Dr. Scollay developed the system while serving on one of six committees that were established following the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held last October (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2006). The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club coordinated and underwrote the event, which worked to address concerns over the safety and soundness of Thoroughbred racehorses.
There are several goals of the injury reporting system. One goal is to identify the frequency, type, and outcome of racing injuries, using a standardized format that will generate valid composite statistics. Another goal is to develop a centralized epidemiologic database that could be used to identify markers for horses that are at increased risk of injury. The system will also serve as a source of data for research directed at improving the safety of racehorses.
The centerpiece of the system is a standardized form used by racetrack veterinarians to identify what happened to an injured horse. It is optional to list the name of the injured horse on the form, and racetracks are able to compare their statistics to the aggregate statistics.
"Most tracks have been keeping much, if not all, of this information already," Dr. Scollay said. "The difference with this program is that by using standardized terminology, definitions, and reporting criteria, we can all be on the same page. And that will permit constructive interactions."
During a press conference in June, Dr. Scollay said that within six months, she expects to have national statistics on the rate of injury per thousand starts, along with statistics on fatalities. The standardized form will be reviewed and changes will be made if necessary. In one year, she expects to start targeting markers for horses that are at increased risk for injury.
"I think that this program may actually raise more questions than it answers, but I think it's going to help raise the right questions, and allow people to go off in a specific direction and get some constructive information," Dr. Scollay said.
Along with the Injury Report Committee that Dr. Scollay serves on, the other five committees stemming from the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit are as follows: Stallions' Progeny Racing Durability, Racing Surfaces, Race Condition and Race Office, Shoeing and Hoofcare, and Education and Licensing.