Consistent, regular maintenance and the sharing of information among superintendents are paramount to having quality, safe racing surfaces, said Dr. Mick Peterson, executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory.
Del Mar plans to replace its Polytrack surface with dirt, track president and chief executive officer Joe Harper said Feb. 18.
Breeders' Cup believes it is well-prepared in the areas of safety and security for its Nov. 1-2 World Championships at Santa Anita Park.
The New York Racing Association said Feb. 27 it is considering changes in racing surfaces and is examining internal procedures it uses for rule violations.
Keeneland said Feb. 7 it has no intention to remove its Polytrack surface after this year's spring meet. The track responded to a request for comment based on rumors that have recently circulated.
Regular testing and proactive investment are keys to improving the safety records of racetracks, a co-founder of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory said Oct. 16 at the fourth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.
Indiana Downs got the go-ahead to resume training June 16 and live racing June 18 after the Indiana Horse Racing Commission ruled horsemen's assertions the dirt surface is unsafe were "unfounded and uncorroborated."
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission has suspended live racing at Indiana Downs June 15-16 pending examination of the track's racing surface.
The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent a letter to the New York Racing Association advising it to hire an investigator to analyze 15 fatal breakdowns that have occurred at Aqueduct since Nov. 30.
Beulah Park will begin its 2011-12 racing season Oct. 10 with a renovated racing surface and "pick" wagers with a reduced pari-mutuel takeout of 15%.
The Racing Surfaces Committee formed at the inaugural Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in 2006 has published a 34-page "Racing Surfaces White Paper."
Churchill Downs Inc. reinforced its safety initiatives April 11 and said it plans to seek re-accreditation for its four racetracks through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Weather and track conditions are forcing cancellations at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Parx Racing, two Pennsylvania racetracks.
Santa Anita opened its new dirt track to horses the morning of Dec. 6. With most horses still stabled across town at Hollywood Park, few horses galloped on the new surface, which is a mixture of 90% sand and 10% clay.
Live racing returns to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course the evening of Sept. 29 after a more than two-week break for renovation of the racing surface.
A study performed by Equibase at the request of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association indicates the percentage of "career-ending did-not-finish" incidents was about twice as high on dirt than on synthetics in 2009.
- By Tom LaMarra
An initial analysis of equine injury data released earlier this year shows no statistically significant difference in the risk of fatalities in Thoroughbreds on different racing surfaces, officials said June 28.
Officials at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course have worked to correct a racing surface horsemen said "fell apart" when new material was added May 9-10.
The changing climate of the Thoroughbred industry and key areas of improvement were prominent topics of discussion by trainers Jonathan Sheppard and Christophe Clement at the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club meeting.
As people rush to takes sides in the great dirt-versus-synthetic surface debate, Dr. Mick Peterson and Santa Anita Park track superintendent Richard Tedesco suggested consistency and maintenance trump type of surface.
Santa Anita Park officials have indicated the California track's main racing surface will be replaced, but it remains to be seen if the new surface will be synthetic or dirt.
A West Virginia racetrack has settled a lawsuit by a jockey who was paralyzed from the chest down during a racing accident in 2004.
A month after Turfway Park experienced eight catastrophic breakdowns during its 21-day holiday meet, state veterinarian Dr. Bryce Peckham and Turfway president Bob Elliston were on hand at a Feb. 10 Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting in Lexington to present commissioners a much more positive report.
Though five horses have been euthanized as a result of catastrophic breakdowns at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots since Jan. 17, Dr. Tom David, equine medical director for the Louisiana State Racing Commission, said the incidents appear to have no direct connection with the condition of the racing surface.
Santa Anita Park announced June 23 that its main track will undergo a complete overhaul beginning July 14, and will be reconstituted with a mixture of Pro-Ride synthetic material.
After track superintendents from across the nation discussed various methods for maintaining their individual surfaces at the Track Superintendent Field Day at Keeneland June 3, Dr. Mick Peterson offered ways to apply what was learned and make the necessary changes to lessen on-track injuries.
The second Elastikon Equine Research Award, funded through a grant made by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co. to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, has been awarded to Dr. Wayne McIlwraith of Colorado State University and Dr. Mick Peterson of the University of Maine for their research designed to enhance the safety of racetracks for horses.
On the second day of the Track Superintendent Field Day at Keeneland June 3, the focus was turned toward dirt tracks, as a panel of six superintendents from across the nation talked about various methods used on the surfaces.
The number of catastrophic injuries on dirt tracks has gone up while the corresponding number on synthetic surfaces has gone down, according to a revision of a report first given at the March 17 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.
Due to heavy overnight rains continuing into April 4, the New York Racing Association has canceled live racing at Aqueduct in an effort to preserve the racing surface for the Wood Memorial program on April 5.
Rollercoaster weather conditions continue to plague Beulah Park, which canceled live racing March 5. It was the fourth consecutive full or partial card that was canceled, and dates lost during the meet are in the double digits.
Santa Anita Park canceled live racing for Jan. 7 because of continued problems with its Cushion Track surface.
Jim Bolger, one of the leading trainers in Ireland, is reported as saying a dirt surface should never again be used for the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
The high probability of rain for Breeders' Cup weekend has led trainers to make some decisions on shoeing.
Participants from the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit announced a second summit is scheduled for March 17-18, 2008, at Keeneland. In addition, members on Sept. 20 provided updates on a variety of summit-inspired initiatives.
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino won't be compelled to install a synthetic racing surface, at least not in the immediate future. But the Iowa track's dirt surface could be the topic of future discussion.
Members of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association voiced their displeasure with the racing surfaces at Saratoga, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct during a meeting Aug. 31, but the New York Racing Association track superintendent later said he stands by the surfaces.
Officials tracking an unusually high number of horse deaths at Colonial Downs said an ongoing investigation hasn't indicated problems with the turf course or dirt track at the Virginia racetrack.
Organizers of the 2006 "Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit" have released an update outlining the work of various committees. A second summit could be held in early 2008.
Martin Collins, creator of the Polytrack artificial surface, said the surface has encountered some problems in North America, but it's still much better than American dirt tracks, which tend to be inconsistent.
Woodbine in Canada will employ a two-step process beginning in May in an attempt to improve the Polytrack surface it installed last summer.
Arlington Park is in the final phase of installing an $11-million Polytrack surface that will debut when live racing begins May 4.
Arlington Park announced Feb. 6 it will install Polytrack for its meet that begins May 4.
The California Coastal Commission has approved plans by Del Mar to replace its dirt surface with a synthetic Polytrack, track officials said.
Hollywood Park, which will debut its Cushion Track for racing when its fall meet begins Nov. 1, is expecting some out-of-town trainers to send horses after the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs.
As Keeneland officials noted with a laugh, it couldn't have been better scripted. But sometimes in horse racing, things have a funny way of coming together despite numerous factors. And on Friday, opening day at the Lexington racetrack, they did just that.
Tests performed Aug. 8-9 on the main track at Arlington Park have determined the Illinois track is consistent and safe for racing.
The Polytrack surface at Turfway Park has held up well in the heat of the summer, but it will be modified before the next live meet begins Sept. 6 at the Northern Kentucky racetrack.
A two-day examination of the dirt surface at Arlington Park revealed nothing that would lead officials to believe the track is unsafe.
Santa Anita Park plans to interrupt its training schedule in mid-July to peel back and inspect the base of the main track, said Ron Charles, president of the Arcadia, Calif., facility.
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