If Less Horses Are Dying It’s Because There’s Less Racing, Less Horses

(Please note: This was previously posted; I’ve edited for further clarity.)

Regarding our annual killed lists, any comparison year over year must be considered with a major caveat: The information I receive through FOIAs to racing commissions is not always consistent. For example, in the early years my requests were denied by states like Kentucky and Arkansas. More recently, I know I have not received all deaths from Florida, New Mexico, and Nebraska, as their always-poor (and often apathetic) reporting has increasingly worsened. In short, perfect comparisons between years are not possible.

The above said, we confirmed 1,104 deaths in 2014. This past year, 2022, 901. A significant drop of 18.4%. And while those are only the confirmed, it’s likely the actual total dropped too. So does this mean horseracing has become safer? Of course not. As they have been for decades now, all relevant racing metrics also declined from ’14 to ’22. Let’s look at the four most prominent, according to The Jockey Club. (These are just for Thoroughbreds, but obviously QuarterHorse and Standardbred metrics have declined also.)

In 2014, there were 41,277 races. In 2022, 33,453. The number of races dropped 19% from ’14 to ’22.

In 2014, there were 343,397 “starts” (number of times horses were raced). In 2022, 275,434. The number of starts dropped 19.8% from ’14 to ’22.

In 2014, there were 51,695 “starters” (number of horses who were raced). In 2022, 41,636. The number of starters dropped 19.5% from ’14 to ’22.

In 2014, the “foal crop” – new horses coming into the system – was 21,427. In 2022, the estimated “crop” (we don’t have exact yet) is 17,300. Assuming that holds, the number of incoming horses dropped 19.3% from ’14 to ’22.

So you see, any decreases in our numbers can be wholly explained by less racing and less horses. In other words, everything changes in horseracing but the rate at which they kill.

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One comment

  1. I believe there are fewer people placing bets on racehorses. So, therefore, there is the demand for more money in the form of government subsidies and government-directed benefits including tax write-offs and tax exemptions to keep up the show of “oh, what a great sport this is” by the New York Racing Association and other groups and in other states.
    Evidently, the “rich” people are having too much fun abusing hundreds and hundreds of horses to death. Rich, poor, or in between, are they not smart enough to change occupations?

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