Horse racing deaths: Fractures main cause in Kentucky, Churchill Downs – Courier Journal

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Santa Anita had its second horse death in four days when a horse was injured during a race Sunday and was later euthanized. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine professor Susan Stover says recent deaths have been a result of multiple factors. (May 21) AP, AP

Most of the thoroughbred horses who’ve died this decade racing on Kentucky tracks suffered broken bones that proved fatal.

Of the 237 race-related deaths logged by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2010 through June 25, 2019, a total of 203 (more than 85%) included a fracture of some kind, typically in the legs. Such an injury is often catastrophic in racehorses, causing them to be euthanized.

The KHRC recently released details of race-related thoroughbred fatalities at Kentucky racetracks dating back to 2010, including the names of horses, the racetrack and the cause of death. Less common causes included soft-tissue injuries and sudden deaths (presumably as a result of catastrophic events such as heart failure).

More: With 3 fatalities, Churchill Downs’ spring meet was its safest since at least 2010

While no racetrack in Kentucky has been immune to race-related fatalities this decade, Churchill Downs experienced the most.

Of the 237 fatalities, a total of 102 (roughly 43%) were reported to have happened through racing at Louisville’s Churchill Downs. Turfway Park in Florence reported 58 deaths (24.5%). Keeneland in Lexington and Ellis Park in Henderson each reported 37 (15.6%) over that period.

Also: Churchill Downs is one of the deadliest racetracks in America

Also: ‘We bury our heads’: Horsemen prefer dirt tracks even though they lead to more fatalities

Kentucky Downs in Franklin, which has one of the shortest meets in the sport each year, was listed as having three fatalities (1.3%).

The order of overall percentages reflects how many races each track runs each year, as Churchill Downs races for four months out of the year. In 2019, Churchill Downs is set to host 70 race days, followed by Turfway (53), Keeneland (33), Ellis Park (27) and Kentucky Downs (5).

For each track, at least 84.3% of horse racing deaths involved fractures.

Kentucky tracks have had at least 16 race-related horse fatalities each year since 2010, peaking at 39 in 2018. The state’s annual average from 2010 to 2018 was more than 25 annually.

More: Horse fatality reports made public for first time by KHRC

Related: Breeders’ Cup 2019 will stay at Santa Anita Park

Gentry Estes: 502-582-4205; [email protected]; Twitter: @Gentry_Estes. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/gentrye.

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