Sudden death in training and racing Thoroughbred horses.


Journal Article

We reviewed case records, necropsy reports, and histologic sections from 25 Thoroughbred racehorses that died suddenly at 3 Chicago racetracks. These were young horses ranging in age from 2 to 5 years. There were more females (n = 16) than males (n = 9), and the incidence of death increased slightly in the spring and summer. Twenty-one of the 25 horses died while racing or training. Only 8 of the 25 horses (32%) had lesions sufficient to account for the death. In 6 of those 8 cases, death was caused by massive thoracic or abdominal hemorrhage. The site or nature of the vascular defect in these cases could not be determined. One horse died of severe preexisting pulmonary disease, and one died of encephalitis and cardiac papillary muscle fibrosis. The cause of death was undetermined in 17 horses (68%). Nearly all horses had pulmonary edema, congestion, and/or hemorrhage. We postulate that these unexplained deaths were a result of exercise-induced acute cardiovascular failure.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gelberg, HB; Zachary, JF; Everitt, JI; Jensen, RC; Smetzer, DL

Published Date

  • December 15, 1985

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 187 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 1354 - 1356

PubMed ID

  • 4086352

Pubmed Central ID

  • 4086352

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-1488


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States