Forelimb Conformation, Sales Results, and Lifetime Racing Performance of 2-Year-Old Thoroughbred Racing Prospects Sold at Auction

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To determine associations between carpal and fetlock conformation and later performance, 292 two-year-old (2YO) Thoroughbred horses were examined at a public auction. Two observers graded carpal and fetlock conformation in the frontal view, and subject weights were estimated (weight tape), and height was measured. Subject age, gender, and workout distance and time were retrieved from sales data. Lifetime racing data was retrieved from the Jockey Club database. Mild to moderate deviations from straight forelimb conformation at the carpus or fetlock occurred in 85% of 2YO Thoroughbreds and had no substantive effect on lifetime racing performance. Carpal and fetlock conformation are associated. Greater age, female gender and faster workout were associated with better short and long-term racing outcomes. The ability to start a race at 2YO was associated with improvements in several measures of racing success. The lack of an association of forelimb conformation with most measures of racing performance will assist producers and consumers of young racing stock in the determination of the need for corrective procedures in young horses and the importance of deviations at purchase. Speed of workout and the ability to start at 2YO were associated with each other and with an improvement in several racing outcomes.HighlightsDeviations from straight conformation in the forelimb at the carpal and metacarpophalangeal joints were common in 2-year-old Thoroughbreds at an auction of racehorse prospects.No major associations could be made between the conformational deviations examined and lifetime racing performance.Horses from this sale with the fastest workout times and that raced at 2 years of age demonstrated improvements in several measures of racing success as compared with horses that did not.

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