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Association between the administration of phenylbutazone prior to racing and musculoskeletal and fatal injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses in Argentina

Teresita Zambruno1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland.

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Stamatis P. Georgopoulos1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland.

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Lisa A. Boden1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland.

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Tim D. H. Parkin1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine the association between prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of musculoskeletal injury (MSI) and fatal injury in Thoroughbred racehorses that raced between 2006 and 2015 at 2 of the 4 official racetracks in Argentina.

SAMPLE

Data from racetrack databases and veterinary reports on 283,193 race starts.

PROCEDURES

Data were collected relating to race performance and injury outcomes for starts at these tracks. The incidence of MSI and fatal injury was calculated for each year, stratified by the declared prerace administration of phenylbutazone. Univariable logistic regression, followed by multivariable logistic regression, was used to identify significant risk factors for both MSI and fatal injury.

RESULTS

Analyses identified associations between the declared prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of MSI and fatal injury during racing. Horses with declared prerace phenylbutazone administration had greater odds of MSI (OR, 1.45 [95% CI, 1.03 to 2.04]) and fatal injury (OR, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.1 to 2.27]) than did horses racing without prerace phenylbutazone administration. These associations remained significant when other risk factors were accounted for in both multivariable models.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggested an association between the prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of MSI and fatal injury in Thoroughbred racehorses during racing. Although these results did not imply a direct causal relationship between prerace phenylbutazone administration and injury, they may be considered in the development of more conservative medication policies to optimize racehorse welfare in North and Latin America.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine the association between prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of musculoskeletal injury (MSI) and fatal injury in Thoroughbred racehorses that raced between 2006 and 2015 at 2 of the 4 official racetracks in Argentina.

SAMPLE

Data from racetrack databases and veterinary reports on 283,193 race starts.

PROCEDURES

Data were collected relating to race performance and injury outcomes for starts at these tracks. The incidence of MSI and fatal injury was calculated for each year, stratified by the declared prerace administration of phenylbutazone. Univariable logistic regression, followed by multivariable logistic regression, was used to identify significant risk factors for both MSI and fatal injury.

RESULTS

Analyses identified associations between the declared prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of MSI and fatal injury during racing. Horses with declared prerace phenylbutazone administration had greater odds of MSI (OR, 1.45 [95% CI, 1.03 to 2.04]) and fatal injury (OR, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.1 to 2.27]) than did horses racing without prerace phenylbutazone administration. These associations remained significant when other risk factors were accounted for in both multivariable models.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggested an association between the prerace administration of phenylbutazone and the risk of MSI and fatal injury in Thoroughbred racehorses during racing. Although these results did not imply a direct causal relationship between prerace phenylbutazone administration and injury, they may be considered in the development of more conservative medication policies to optimize racehorse welfare in North and Latin America.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 188 kb)

Contributor Notes

Dr. Zambruno's present address is Jockey Club, Hipódromo de San Isidro, Argentina.

Dr. Georgopoulos’ present address is Deus Ex Machina, Chimarras 5, Athens, Greece.

Dr. Boden's present address is the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, Scotland.

Address correspondence to Dr. Parkin (tim.parkin@glasgow.ac.uk).