Objective Compare the career profiles of a cohort of Standardbred horses that first raced as 2-year-olds with those that started their racing careers at a later age. Method Retrospective analysis of the racing records of all foals born in New South Wales in the 2000 foaling season. Results The career records of 999 horses were analysed. Almost half (43.9%) first raced as 2-year-olds and one-third (33.9%) as 3-year-olds. The median career duration for horses that first raced as 2-year-olds was 2.93 years (interquartile range (IQR) 2.70–3.16), which was significantly greater than the median for horses that first raced at 3, 4 or ≥5 years old (P < 0.001). Males, and horses that first raced as 2-year-olds, earned significantly more prize money than females or horses that started racing aged ≥3 years (P < 0.001). The population median number of career starts was 28.0 (IQR 8-64). Males, and horses that first raced as 2-year-olds, had significantly more career starts than females or horses that started racing aged ≥3 years (P < 0.001). Conclusion This study found no evidence suggesting that racing as a 2-year-old had a deleterious effect on a horse's racing career.
Australian Veterinary Journal