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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Sep 1;215(5):654-61.

Results of physical inspection before races and race-related characteristics and their association with musculoskeletal injuries in Thoroughbreds during races.

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Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843, USA.



To estimate the relative risk of injury among horses deemed to be at increased risk of injury on the basis of prerace physical inspection findings and to examine the association of injury during races with race-related characteristics.


Cohort study.


2,187 Thoroughbred horses that started 3,227 races in Kentucky.


All race starts for which a horse was deemed to be at increased risk of injury on the basis of prerace physical inspection findings and a random sample of race starts for which horses were not deemed at increased risk of injury were included in the study. Findings of prerace physical inspection, race-related characteristics, and outcome of the race (race results and whether the horse incurred an injury) were recorded for each race start. Race starts in which a horse incurred an injury during a race were compared with race starts in which injuries were not incurred to identify factors associated with injury during races.


Abnormality of the suspensory ligament of the forelimbs detected during prerace physical inspection, racetrack, class of race (claiming race < or = $25,000 vs other classes), and distance of race (< 7 furlongs vs other distances) were significantly associated with increased risk of injury.


Prerace physical inspection findings, particularly abnormalities of the suspensory ligament, may be used to identify horses at increased risk of injury during races. Rate of injury differed among racetracks, and horses in certain types of races (lower-priced claiming races and races of shorter distance) may be at increased risk of injury during races.

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