how many horses died in horse racing

The number of horse deaths in racing has been a concern for animal welfare advocates and racing industry stakeholders. Many factors contribute to these fatalities, including the high speeds at which horses race, the strenuous training regimens they undergo, and the physical demands of carrying jockeys. In recent years, there have been increased efforts to improve safety measures and reduce the number of horse deaths in racing. These efforts include changes to track surfaces, the implementation of new racing rules, and the use of advanced veterinary care.

Equine Mortality in Sport

Horse racing is a demanding sport that requires a lot of athleticism and training from both the horse and the rider. Unfortunately, there are times when horses can suffer injuries or even death while racing.

According to a study by the University of California, Davis, the average number of horse deaths per 1,000 starts in Thoroughbred racing is about 1.3. This means that for every 1,000 races that are run, about 1.3 horses will die. This number has remained relatively stable over the past few decades, despite advances in safety measures.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a horse’s death during a race, including:

  • Collisions with other horses or objects
  • Falls
  • Heart attacks
  • Respiratory problems
  • Other medical conditions

In addition to the immediate risk of death, horses that suffer injuries during a race may also have long-term health problems. Some of these injuries can be career-ending, while others may simply reduce the horse’s performance.

The following table shows the number of horse deaths that occurred during Thoroughbred races in the United States from 2010 to 2019:

YearNumber of Deaths

As you can see, the number of horse deaths in Thoroughbred racing has declined slightly over the past few years. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including improved safety measures, better veterinary care, and a greater awareness of the risks involved in the sport.

Despite these improvements, horse racing is still a dangerous sport. Horses are large, powerful animals, and there is always the potential for something to go wrong. However, by taking steps to minimize the risks, we can help to ensure that horses remain safe and healthy while competing in this challenging sport.

The Tragic Loss in Horse Racing

Horse racing, a sport that has thrilled audiences for centuries, comes with a somber reality: the loss of horses. While the industry has made strides in improving welfare standards, the issue of equine fatalities remains a concern.

Racing Industry Welfare Concerns

The welfare of horses in racing raises ethical and practical questions:

  • Physical stress: Racing puts immense physical strain on horses, potentially leading to injuries or even death.
  • Breeding practices: Horses are often bred for speed and athleticism, which can compromise their health and longevity.
  • Drug use: Performance-enhancing drugs can have harmful side effects on equine well-being.
  • Lack of regulation: In some jurisdictions, regulations governing horse racing may be lax, leading to inadequate veterinary oversight and poor track conditions.

Statistics on Horse Racing Fatalities

The exact number of horses that have died in horse racing is difficult to determine. However, the Jockey Club, a non-profit organization that registers Thoroughbreds, reported the following:

YearNumber of StartersNumber of Fatalities

These statistics indicate that the average fatality rate in Thoroughbred racing in recent years has been around 0.1% of starters.

Addressing the Problem

The racing industry has taken steps to address horse safety:

  • Track safety improvements: Many tracks have invested in improved surfaces and safety features.
  • Increased veterinary oversight: Veterinarians are present at races to monitor horses and respond to emergencies.
  • Retirement and rehoming programs: Organizations work to find suitable homes for retired or injured racehorses.
  • Reform of breeding practices: Efforts are being made to promote breeding for health and soundness.


While horse racing fatalities remain a concern, the industry is working to improve welfare standards. Increased regulation, improved track conditions, and responsible breeding practices are crucial for reducing the number of tragic losses.

How Many Horses Die in Horse Races?

Horse racing is a popular sport, but it can also be dangerous. Every year, a number of horses are injured or killed while racing. In the United States, there were an average of 24 horse deaths per 1,000 starts between 2009 and 2018. This means that for every 1,000 races, there were an average of 24 horses that died.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to horse deaths in races, including:

  • The speed of the race
  • The condition of the track
  • The age and experience of the horse
  • The training of the horse
  • The equipment used on the horse

In order to reduce the number of horse deaths in races, a number of safety regulations have been put in place. These regulations include:

  • Limits on the speed of races
  • Inspections of the track prior to races
  • Age and experience requirements for horses
  • Training requirements for horses
  • Safety equipment requirements for horses

These regulations have helped to reduce the number of horse deaths in races, but there is still room for improvement. The following table shows the number of horse deaths per 1,000 starts in the United States from 2009 to 2018:

YearHorse Deaths per 1,000 Starts

As can be seen from the table, the number of horse deaths per 1,000 starts has declined in recent years. This is due in part to the safety regulations that have been put in place. However, there is still more that can be done to reduce the number of horse deaths in races.

Animal Rights and Racing Ethics

Horse racing is a popular sport enjoyed by many around the world. However, the issue of horse deaths in racing has raised concerns about animal rights and racing ethics.

Horse Deaths in Racing

  • According to The Jockey Club, over 600 horses died on U.S. racetracks in 2021.
  • The majority of these deaths were due to injuries sustained during racing or training.
  • Some of the most common injuries include broken bones, heart attacks, and respiratory problems.

Causes of Horse Deaths

There are a number of factors that can contribute to horse deaths in racing, including:

  • Physical stress and strain
  • Drug use
  • Poor track conditions
  • Inadequate veterinary care

Animal Rights Concerns

Animal rights activists argue that horse racing is cruel and inhumane. They point to the high number of horse deaths and injuries, as well as the use of drugs and other practices that can compromise the horses’ well-being.

Activists also argue that horses are sentient beings who should not be used for entertainment purposes. They believe that racing puts horses at unnecessary risk and that it is time to end the sport.

Racing Ethics

The horse racing industry has its own code of ethics that is designed to protect the horses and ensure that the sport is conducted in a fair and humane manner.

However, some critics argue that the industry is not doing enough to protect horses. They point to the lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to horse deaths and injuries.

The racing industry has taken some steps to address the issue of horse deaths, such as implementing new safety measures and increasing veterinary oversight. However, there is still more that can be done to improve the safety and well-being of horses in racing.

Horse Deaths in Racing by Year
YearNumber of Deaths

Whew, that was a lot of horse racing history to cover! Thanks for sticking with me. It’s a bummer that so many horses have died over the years, but I’m glad that the industry is taking steps to improve safety. I hope you found this article informative. If you have any other questions about horse racing, feel free to leave a comment below. And be sure to check back soon for more articles on all things horse racing!