05/12/2010 12:00AM

California starting surface study

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The California Horse Racing Board is launching a study on track surface safety in coming months that will focus on how racing surfaces play a role in equine injuries.

The data-collection phase of the study will begin in July under the direction of Jeffery Salmon, 62, a retired mechanical engineer, and Thomas McCarthy, 50, a Quarter Horse breeder with an animal science background.

Salmon and McCarthy, who will serve as project managers, were at Hollywood Park on Wednesday and will travel to Golden Gate Fields next week, starting preliminary aspects of the project.

The study, first announced last year, will gather information on weather conditions, samples of synthetic track and dirt surfaces, and data on injuries, a considerable amount of which is already collected, according to racing board spokesman Mike Marten.

Studies will also be conducted on surface moisture content and degree of compaction caused when a horse strikes the surface.

Salmon and McCarthy will work with track superintendents and racing board officials, such as its equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur.

In coming months, the data will be turned over to a wider group of racing and track officials and horsemen for interpretation, Marten said. Racing board staff will continue to gather information to continue the study, he said.

The study will not be limited to synthetic tracks, which are in place at the state's four major Thoroughbred tracks, Marten said. Dirt surfaces at Los Alamitos and on the fair circuit will also be incorporated.