J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory

Photo Courtesy of Mary Beth Whitcomb

Racing Injury Prevention Program

California Racing Safety LogoCalifornia’s Racing Safety Program

The California Horse Racing Board initiated the Racing Safety Program in July, 2010 to address the requirements of the Business and Professions Code and to reduce the incidence of debilitating and fatal injuries at California race tracks and training facilities.  The Program has 3 parts.

  • The Necropsy (Postmortem) Program is conducted by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS), University of California, Davis. Necropsy examinations are performed by veterinary pathologists, specifically trained for this purpose, who examine all body systems to determine cause of death and identify other abnormalities that may have affected horses’ health. This program has been in place since 1990.
  • The Track Safety  engineers are developing parameter ranges for safe track operations. The goal is to maintain race surface consistency. Field and laboratory measurements of surface parameters are compared to surface composition. These comparisons guide surface management so that surface parameters are kept within a range of safety
  • The Racing Injury Prevention Program is conducted in collaboration with the JD Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, University of California, Davis. The program was initiated in 2011 because of the high fatality rates from musculoskeletal injuries and attrition due to mild injuries that adversely affect equine welfare and the industry.

A seminal finding is that pre-existing injuries predispose to catastrophic bone fractures; therefore, injuries are preventable. Further, factors such as training and racing schedules and race surface are associated with development of injuries.  Consequently, factors can be managed to reduce injury rates.

Continuing Education Development

Using the research and findings from these programs a comprehensive education program designed to educate licensees is being developed for injury prevention in equine athletes. Training materials contain an overview, interactive information, how to movies, and self-assessment sections.

Education Modules

Racing Safety Program Overview Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Humeral Fractures Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Scapular Fractures Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Post Mortem Injury Examination

The video contained in the link below contains graphic material, viewer discretion is advised.

Postmortem Examination of a Racehorse Forelimb Fetlock Breakdown

Equine Fracture Pamphlets & Diagrams

Humeral Fractures Technical Notes

Scapular Fractures Technical Notes

Bone Fracture Diagrams link contains a zip file containing multiple Word Documents, each of individual bones.

Related Links


Racehorse Track Maintenance Procedures (for Dirt & Synthetic)

Development of the UC Davis Track-in-a-Box for Racehorse Track Surface Evaluation


3D Model of a Horse Muscle



UC DAVIS News and Information

Paulick Report

UC Health


Medical Xpress

My Horse World


Capital Public Radio