Racing Thoroughbreds at Two and Career Soundness
Yet another study, this one on 160,000 racehorses over a 10 year period in Australia, has refuted the claim that racing two-year-olds is detrimental to their careers. In fact, the opposite is true, those that race at two have longer careers than those that don't.
The study was completed by Brandon Veile, Claire Wade and Natasha Hamilton from Sydney University with data supplied by the official Australian race database RISA. The study can be found here. The key finding is that there was "no detrimental effect on a horse's career if it started racing as a two-year-old," Dr Hamilton said in a statement ."The survival analysis showed the risk of retirement from racing decreased the younger the horse was when it ran its first race," she added. That is, the earlier they raced, the lower the risk of retirement and the longer the career.
This study, while more comprehensive than others including those by Dr Rogers and his team at Massey University which we have posted about here and here, has the same theme as these other studies - forget what your cousin tells you he read on the internet, racing horses at two is important for their development and leads to a sounder racehorse with a longer career. Of course, like anything a bit of sensibility and care needs to be taken with young horses, but certainly not to the point of totally disqualifying two year old performance, just because you think it leaves them less sound.