Executives with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club have taken a first step toward installing Polytrack at the popular seaside racetrack when they made a presentation to the 22nd District Agricultural Association during its board meeting Jan. 10.While it didn't approve funding, the district board members agreed to submit the plan to the California Coastal Commission for consideration. DMTC president Joe Harper and vice president Craig Fravel made the presentation to the district board, which owns and operates the Del Mar fairgrounds and leases the facility to DMTC for its annual summer race meet. Joining them in the presentation were Drew Couto, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California; Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers and Richard Shapiro, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board. Also present were trainers Richard Mandella and Howard Zucker, the past and current chairmen of the Thoroughbred horsemen's Track Safety Committee, and two prominent veterinarians with strong credentials in the prevention of injuries to horses, Dr. Gregory Ferraro and Dr. Rick Arthur.
Citing encouraging results in Kentucky and Europe where Polytrack already is in use, the speakers testified that Polytrack should help reduce injuries among racehorses, which was the theme of a similar presentation to the CHRB in December. At that Dec. 1 meeting, the racing commissioners, including Shapiro, vowed to work with the industry on track safety issues, and Shapiro's appearance before the district board on Tuesday was part of that effort."My impression was the district is inclined in a positive light to see if Polytrack could be installed there," explained Shapiro. "While I wish it could be done as early as this year, the reality is that given all of the required steps, including environmental approval by the Coastal Commission, it probably would not be accomplished before the start of the Del Mar 2007 season."Everyone in the industry supports this effort," Shapiro added. "We all view it as critical to the health and safety of horses, jockeys, and other racing participants."