Database to track horse injuries

Three local tracks part of pilot project designed to lower risks

Horse racing

May 31, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

After years of wishing for more basic information about on-track injuries to thoroughbreds, veterinarians will at last begin putting together a database tomorrow using an equine injury reporting system developed by Dr. Mary Scollay, veterinarian at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park.

Scollay's pilot project will be implemented by more than 30 racetracks across the country, including Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and Timonium.

"Most tracks have been keeping much, if not all, of this information already," Scollay said in a news release. "The difference with this program is that by using standardized terminology, definitions and reporting criteria, we can all be on the same page. And that will permit constructive interactions."

The purpose of the project is to identify the frequency, type and outcome of racing injuries; to develop a centralized database that could be used to identify markers for horses at increased risk of injury; and to serve as a data source for research directed at improving safety.

Though the initiative comes out of an industry summit held last October in Lexington, Ky., and begins about a year after 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro suffered an eventually fatal injury in the Preakness, Maryland Racing Commission veterinarian Dr. David Zipf said the program has long been under discussion.

"Barbaro could be part of it," Zipf said, "but veterinary practitioners have been asking for this for years. We've been concerned for a long time and have wanted to have a centralized source. Mary is very innovative."

To gather the information, each track vet will fill out a detailed report on every injury at the racetrack - including factors such as track condition, type of horseshoe, location on the track, age, breeding, and any medication the horse was on.

"It is digging for deep detail," Zipf said. "Maybe we'll find out that a horse didn't just take a bad step, but that there was a reason. This will be the first step in possibly identifying what actually happened."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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