Good Question: How often do racehorses die at the track?

Good Question: How often do racehorses die at the track?
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 1:59 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Wednesday, horse racing safety leaders are investigating what led to the recent death of 12 horses at Churchill Downs. So, we wanted to know how common those deaths are.

For today’s Good Question, we’re asking, “How often do racehorses die at the track?”

Data on thoroughbred racing fatalities is kept by the Jockey Club but only includes numbers since 2009.

Anti-racing website Horseracing Wrongs keeps a separate tally that also includes horses that died while training and in stalls. Their yearly numbers are higher.

Looking at the report from The Jockey Club, from 2009 to 2022, 7,602 thoroughbreds died at American race tracks.

The rate of fatalities has dropped from two deaths per 1,000 starts in 2009 to 1.25 deaths per 1,000 starts in 2022.

Locally, Keeneland trended below the national average until 2016, when five horses died at the track. The same number died the next two years, then nine horses in 2019. Since then, the number of horse deaths has dropped back down. But, since 2009, there has never been a year where Keeneland hasn’t had at least one horse die while racing.

While the numbers are improving, on average more than six horses died each week in 2022 at American race tracks.

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