Study Inconclusive on Arlington Breakdowns

Add the Illinois Racing Board to the list of those who have little idea what has caused the recent spate of fatal breakdowns of horses at Arlington Park Racecourse.

The IRB, at its July 11 meeting, heard a staff report on the 17 breakdowns that have occurred during racing in the current meeting – a number comparable to 12 fatal injuries during the entire 2005 season.

Arlington officials have closely examined the racing surface, added pine bark shavings to retain moisture, and analyzed racing patterns without coming to any conclusions about a cause for the problem.

The IRB study also identified no cause. But several commissioners maintained they could see no way the racing surface is not the problem.

The only consistent factor, said Commissioner John Simon, "is that the horses were running on the same track."

The board staff was instructed to hire an outside expert to conduct a more thorough examination of the Arlington racing surface and to report back. Executive Director Mark Laino said that effort will be launched as soon as possible.

One potential explanation offered during the meeting was that horses are being raced more often to compensate for a shortage of available stock. It was also noted that the jump in fatalities could be a simple statistical aberration that might average out over time.