Racing industry launches equine injury database - DVM
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Racing industry launches equine injury database
System can spot trends, risks, improve horses' safety, says DVM who developed it


Addressing misinformation

Scollay believes the system will address what she calls "certain assertions and beliefs" about the frequency and severity of racetrack injuries, especially in the press over the last couple of years, and particularly since the fatal breakdown of the filly Eight Belles at this year's Kentucky Derby.

"There have been all kinds of statements about increasing injuries, including assertions about the vulnerability of fillies vs. colts and the types of races they run. The fact is, the data just isn't there to support such statements. We're just beginning to collect it now."

The system will look at horses that run consistently without injury, too, examining their histories and variables such as their training regimen and type of track on which they normally run, in an effort to determine what keeps them injury-free.

Although Scollay is busy in her new role as Kentucky's equine medical director, a job she began July 1 after 13 years as senior veterinarian for Florida's Calder Race Course and Gulf Stream Park, she'll continue to devote some time each week helping coordinate and promote the reporting system.

Dr. Ashley Hill, epidemiologist at Colorado State University, will analyze the data to look for important trends or patterns of activity that might be seen as injury risk factors. "We need an epidemiologist to look at and sort out the variables," Scollay says. "For example, she'll look at track surfaces — dirt, turf and synthetic — and configurations, like turning radius of some tracks, which can change the dynamics. We want to make sure the statistics are valid and meaningful. The more data we obtain and analyze, obviously the more we'll learn. But it will take some time."

Scollay is one four veterinarians who testified in June before the U.S. House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee on injuries and medication issues in Thoroughbred racing, with a view as to whether the industry can regulate itself effectively, or whether a federal regulatory agency is needed, Her testimony focused on the reporting system as an example of how the industry is taking serious steps to reduce injuries and work toward uniform regulation from within.

The Jockey Club is underwriting the cost of operating the reporting system "as a service to the industry," it says in a press release.

"We are especially grateful to Dr. Scollay and Dr. Arthur for their assistance with the pilot program and system testing, and to all the regulatory veterinarians ... who provided their expertise," says Alan Marzelli, Jockey Club president who also testified before the House panel in June.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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