Tests performed Aug. 8-9 on the main track at Arlington Park have determined the Illinois track is consistent and safe for racing.
"I would not expect the track to be a significant factor in either fractures or soft tissue injuries," said Michael "Mick" Peterson in his preliminary report to the Illinois Racing Board. "At this point, the results are quite clear. All of my measurements indicate that the surface at Arlington Park is safe for racing."
Peterson is the third consultant to evaluate the track this year. The tests came as a result of the high number of breakdowns at Arlington this year. So far, 21 horses have suffered catastrophic breakdowns since the meet began in early May.
The track was also tested by Arlington and the independent consultant Charles E. Coon & Sons earlier in the meet. Both prior reviews found that the track was safe for racing. Because the independent consultant had had other dealings with the track, Peterson was brought in after possible concerns about objectivity were raised.
Peterson, who is a professor and graduate coordinator in mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, performed tests to measure the vertical stiffness of the track surface and the horizontal strength of the surface. Vertical stiffness is associated with the likelihood of fractures, while the horizontal shear strength is related to the risk of soft tissue injuries. He found the track had a low vertical stiffness and shear strength within the acceptable range of values.
"It is a credit to the work that has been done on the track that the low vertical stiffness is combined with good shear strength," Peterson said.
Tests were also done using ground-penetrating radar to evaluate the base of the track.
"This data will be analyzed further, but at this time no specific areas of concern are evident in the data," Peterson said. "The track appears to have a consistent and fair racing surface."