Calder Introduces New Safety Rail for Chute

(from Calder report)
Calder Race Course introduced a new temporary safety rail Sunday that extends out of the chute for six, six-and-a-half, and seven-furlong races.

The innovative rail is an extension of the safety rail that has been in place at the track for many years and replaces a pipe rail that is commonly used at racetracks throughout the country. The new temporary safety rail is the only one of its kind according to Calder director of racing surfaces Steve Cross.

"We had been experimenting over the years with ways to deter horses from making a left turn at the gap once they come out of the chute," said Cross. "Riders cite it as a problem everywhere and we wanted to find a way to keep it from happening.

"We had painted the old pipe rail different colors, but after consulting with veterinarians, we learned that horses don't see colors. What they do see is the difference between the permanent rail and the temporary pipe rail. Some don't even see the pipe rail and that's when they try to bolt to the left," said Cross. "Four horses have made that left turn here this past year."

Calder President Ken Dunn joined Cross Sunday morning in showing the new rail to a half dozen jockeys. It was met with unanimous approval.

"I think it's going to help horses stay straight," said Phil Teator. "It will give them less of an idea to make the gap. This is much better, because it looks the same (as the permanent rail). Hats off to the guy who designed it."

"It's great," said Jose Santos. "I think it's the best...every chute should have it."

Besides discouraging horses from bolting to the left coming out of the chute, the safety rail provides the added protection of the plastic cover to keep horses and riders from striking the posts, which are also padded.