Objective—To identify race-start characteristics associated
with catastrophic musculoskeletal (MS) injury
in Thoroughbred racehorses at 2 racetracks in Florida
during 1995 through 1998.
Design—Matched case-control study.
Animals—97 Thoroughbreds (case horses) that
incurred a catastrophic MS injury during racing and
388 Thoroughbreds (control horses) randomly selected
from noninjured participants and matched on the
basis of racetrack and year.
Procedure—Incidence of MS injury was calculated
for all race meets at 2 racetracks in Florida from 1995
through 1998. Race-start characteristics were compared
among case and control horses, using conditional
Results—Overall incidence of MS injury was
1.2/1,000 race starts (97/79,416 starts). Incidence of
injury was significantly higher for turf races (2.3/1,000
starts) than for dirt races (0.9/1,000 starts). Sex, number
of days since last race, and racing surface were
associated with risk of injury; geldings, ≥ 33 days
since the last race, and turf racing surface were associated
with a higher risk of injury.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Incidence of
injury among Thoroughbreds in Florida was associated
with sex, number of days since last race, and racing
surface. Days since last race may have been an
indicator of previous health and lameness problems.
Racing surface may have been a risk factor for MS
injury because turf races tended to be more competitive
than dirt races. Horses running in turf races were
more likely to participate in races with a large field,
handicap races, long races, and races with high purses.
(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:83–86)