Racing Carnage: Horseracing Wrongs 2014 Death Stats Visualized

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Writing and Data Wrangling by:  Heather Clemenceau

Data reproduced with permission of Patrick Battuello – http://www.horseracingwrongs.com

Most of the followers of this blog are familiar with Patrick Battuello and his meticulous collection of stats on the deaths and injuries of racehorses across the United States via his blog HorseracingWrongs.  I was recently sent his 2014 compilation of information on racing deaths for 2014,  and immediately I knew that,  as a visual person,  I wanted to see it represented in pictures and graphs.  So I took Patrick’s data line by line,  recorded each horse’s age at death,  the track info,  plugged it all in an Excel spreadsheet,  added state,  city,  and zip codes for each of the tracks,  scrubbed and sorted the data,  and then imported it all into Tableau for visualization.  It’s so disturbing to see the number of deaths of 1 year-olds in training at various tracks,  as well as horses of the “advanced” age of 10.  The average age of nearly 1,000 dead race horses was only 3.9 years. 
horse racing deaths visual analysis

Click to embiggen – each circle represents a track within a state – the larger the circle the greater the number of horses killed on the track.

Deaths per state/track are also very revealing,  the greatest number of deaths occurring at Charles Town (West Virginia), Gulfstream (Florida), and Turf (Arizona).
Horse Racing Deaths 2014

Click to embiggen – Hold the “Ctrl” key and press the “+” key to zoom in (press “-” to zoom out) or if you have a mouse with a wheel, hold the “Ctrl” key on the keyboard and then scroll the wheel up to zoom in (scroll down to zoom out)

There are certainly more deaths than what is represented here.  Patrick was limited in what he was given via FOIA requests,  while other tracks maintained that they didn’t keep lists,  didn’t recognize training deaths, didn’t provide complete information,  claimed that they were prohibited by law from providing information,  or simply denied requests.  The information obtained does not even include deaths that occurred at private farms, training centers, or rescue facilities,  nor does it include “non-racing” fatalities such as colic or laminitis.  In turn,  I was somewhat limited in my ability to determine whether tracks had been sold and changed names with or without the complication of bankruptcy, and where they were located in states/cities.The data certainly tells a story. But even if we estimate that the deaths are double the numbers captured,  visualizations on graphs do not include all the other horses slaughtered in Canadian or Mexican plants last year,  which is where many of them go when they lose one too many a race.

Raw Data below:

 

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you Heather ! Great work putting this all together.

    TRAGIC it is still going on. Horse racing and horse slaughter needs to be banned.

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