Over the shoulder portrait of a beautiful horse. Shutterstock/Svetlana Ryazantseva.

Response to “Bramlage: racing and training 2-yo’s reduces their risk of injury”

When we saw the title of this article on the Paulick Report we knew we were not going to like what it contained because of the use of Bramlage. Really? Paulick is so much smarter than that, so not sure what is going on there. Natalie Voss? Well, she’s a very good writer. It is puzzling.

We won’t sport with your intelligence regarding what Bramlage had to say in the headlined article. If you wish to sport with it yourself (wink), here is the link to it.

Jane Allin responds

I truly question the motive behind this article. Perhaps that is unfair of me, but it seems of late that articles such as these promoting disputed practices in racing are becoming more prevalent these days. 

But, but…a respected equine veterinarian — who would mistrust his opinion? Surely no one, right?

While there is ample evidence showing that exercise in young horses is paramount to stimulating bone remodeling, the science doesn’t necessarily warrant the title of this article. It is no secret that research supports the idea that bone morphology and mechanical and chemical properties can be affected by exercise or the lack of it from birth throughout the life of the horse. None whatsoever. But this analysis is flawed. 

And yes, the Equine Injury Database does in fact appear to indicate that 2-year old racehorses had lower fatality rates than 3- and 4-year olds and that horses who didn’t race as 2-year olds broke down more often than those who did. However, despite the “science” of bone remodeling being valid, the statistics quoted do not inevitably support the fact that racing is good for all 2-year old horses.


To start with, it is recognised that many horses who do not start racing at two, are unsuccessful in training and racing at that age or have inherent soundness issues. It is a misdirected argument to make a sweeping statement claiming that racing as a 2-year old is beneficial when in fact, not all horses are part of the statistical data. There is absolutely no truth in that statement. 

Sample Selection Bias

What is more apt is that those horses who didn’t race as 2-year olds, but raced later and broke down more frequently, really shouldn’t have been racing at all. This is like comparing apples to oranges in the real world. There is no “control” group here, so statistically speaking, this is meaningless — sample selection bias. 

Moreover, the data that identifies more fatality rates in 3-yr old and older horses includes horses that raced as a 2-yr olds. Despite the fact that the data shows those who didn’t race as 2-yr olds broke down more frequently, horses that raced as 2-yr olds did indeed break down. Cherry picking is a hallmark of poor science, especially knowing that the sample selection is biased. 

There are other things to discuss here as well, but I digress. 

As much as some may disagree, the underlying objective of this article is in response to all of the current negativity the racing industry is facing — the drugs, the declining soundness, the rush to the breeding shed, the gambling, and ultimately, the fact that the racing industry has failed the very being that makes it tick. 


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Featured Image: Shutterstock/Svetlana Ryazantseva.

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