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Association of high-speed exercise with racing injury in Thoroughbreds

Noah D. Cohen VMD, MPH, PhD, DACVIM1, Scott M. Berry PhD2, John G. Peloso DVM, MS, DACVS3,4, George D. Mundy DVM5,6, and Ian C. Howard7
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  • 1 Department of Large Animal Medicine & Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-3143.
  • | 2 Department of Statistics, College of Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-3143.
  • | 3 Department of Large Animal Medicine & Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-3143.
  • | 4 Present address is 11629 S Hwy 475, Ocala, FL 34480.
  • | 5 Kentucky Racing Commission, 4063 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40502.
  • | 6 Present address is Hill 'n' Dale Farm, 660 N Yarnallton Rd, Lexington, KY, 40511.
  • | 7 Wayward Farm, 10320 Pine Valley Dr, Woodbridge, ON, Canada L4L 1A6.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the association between high-speed exercise and risk of injury while racing among Thoroughbreds in Kentucky.

Design—Matched case-control study.

Animals—206 Thoroughbreds that sustained a musculoskeletal injury while racing and 412 Thoroughbreds that were not injured during the same races.

Procedure—Data regarding official timed workouts and races and the Beyer's numbers for the 3 races before the race during which injury occurred were extracted from past performance charts and compared between injured horses and control horses.

Results—For injured horses, cumulative distance of high-speed exercise during the 1- and 2-month periods prior to the race in which injury occurred was significantly less than that of control horses; for either period, a difference of 10 furlongs was associated with approximately 2-fold greater risk of injury. Beyer's numbers were significantly higher for injured horses than for control horses. These effects remained significant after adjusting for age and results of prerace physical inspection.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In Kentucky, injured horses had significantly less cumulative highspeed exercise than did control horses during the 1- and 2-month periods prior to the race in which injury occurred. These results differ from those observed in California. The association of injury with cumulative high-speed exercise appears to vary among regions in the United States. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000; 216:1273–1278)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the association between high-speed exercise and risk of injury while racing among Thoroughbreds in Kentucky.

Design—Matched case-control study.

Animals—206 Thoroughbreds that sustained a musculoskeletal injury while racing and 412 Thoroughbreds that were not injured during the same races.

Procedure—Data regarding official timed workouts and races and the Beyer's numbers for the 3 races before the race during which injury occurred were extracted from past performance charts and compared between injured horses and control horses.

Results—For injured horses, cumulative distance of high-speed exercise during the 1- and 2-month periods prior to the race in which injury occurred was significantly less than that of control horses; for either period, a difference of 10 furlongs was associated with approximately 2-fold greater risk of injury. Beyer's numbers were significantly higher for injured horses than for control horses. These effects remained significant after adjusting for age and results of prerace physical inspection.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In Kentucky, injured horses had significantly less cumulative highspeed exercise than did control horses during the 1- and 2-month periods prior to the race in which injury occurred. These results differ from those observed in California. The association of injury with cumulative high-speed exercise appears to vary among regions in the United States. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000; 216:1273–1278)