Good Question: What’s the most common cause for racehorse deaths?

Good Question: What’s the most common cause for racehorse deaths?
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 2:01 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For today’s Good Question, Lisa asks, “What’s the most common cause for racehorse deaths?”

Looking at the reports from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, of the 20 horses who died on Kentucky tracks this year, 18 of them were euthanized after an injury to a limb. Sometimes, that happened on the track, some back at the barn, sometimes at an equine hospital.

A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation shows that catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of euthanasia or spontaneous death in racehorses.

However, finding the cause of those injuries has proven difficult.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority released a report Tuesday after investigating the multiple deaths earlier this year at Churchill Downs:

“Despite extensive investigation and analysis, hisa did not identify any singular explanation for the fatalities at Churchill Downs.”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any lessons to be learned from the investigation. They went on to say:

“However, analysis of training histories did indicate an increased risk profile for some of the horses due to the frequency and cadence of their exercise and racing schedules.”

The organization says it plans to continue analyzing those risks.

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