01/17/2009 12:00AM

CHRB to study track safety


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board has launched a study on racetrack safety as part of a broader effort to reduce injuries, the board announced.

The study will be conducted in conjunction with other studies and could take as long as six months to complete, according to chairman John Harris.

During the study, the board will inspect all racing surfaces, maintenance techniques, and review injuries; utilize the Jockey Club database for reporting equine injuries; request information from private veterinarians; conduct biomechanical testing on how hooves strike racing surfaces; review information from horseshoe inspectors; and review studies on horse fatalities.

Various projects already are under way regarding the reporting of equine injuries, and the forthcoming study will utilize that information, Harris said.

"It's a coordinated effort," Harris said Friday. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel."

The racing board hopes to finance the study through a racetrack security fund, financed from uncashed vouchers, according to a board statement. The board would have virtually no chance of financing the study through the state government, which has budget difficulties.

Data from the study will be compiled by racing board executive director Kirk Breed and equine medical director Rick Arthur. In a statement before the board Thursday, Arthur said the sport is losing "3 to 4 percent of its horse population each month." It was unclear whether the horses were no longer racing because of injury, were no longer competitive, were being bred, or were being used for other horse-related activities, such as dressage or show jumping.

Much of the study will focus on California's synthetic racing surfaces, which are in place at the state's four major racetracks. Arthur told the board that studies have shown a reduction in racing fatalities but not fewer injuries since synthetic racing surfaces were mandated for the state's Thoroughbred tracks in 2007. He said the compilation of such data is continuing.

Cost of Freedom gives up on Millions

Efforts to have the Grade 1 winner Cost of Freedom removed from the state's veterinarian's list before the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita next Saturday have been abandoned, trainer John Sadler said.

On Saturday, Cost of Freedom was scheduled to undergo a five-furlong workout and an inspection from official veterinarians in an effort to have the gelding removed from the vet's list for unsoundness. Arthur had ruled that Cost of Freedom was unsound after watching the gelding undergo a court-ordered jog Friday.

Owner Gary Barber pursued legal action against the racing board to have Cost of Freedom removed from the vet's list. As a result, Los Angeles Superior Court judge James Chalfant ordered that state veterinarians observe Cost of Freedom jogging on the main track. After Friday's jog, Arthur said that Cost of Freedom "was not sound enough to be allowed to race."

Cost of Freedom won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes in October. Sadler said Saturday that plans for the gelding are unclear. One option is the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai on March 28. "We're going on to other plans," Sadler said. "I don't know what we'll do."

Flashmans Papers set for San Pedro

Even though Flashmans Papers won the Eddie Logan Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 27, trainer Doug O'Neill is not thinking about the upcoming Triple Crown preps. Monday, Flashmans Papers starts in the $70,000 San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I don't think he's a mile-and-a-quarter-type horse," O'Neill said. "I think he's a solid miler."

O'Neill said he was swayed toward starting Flashmans Papers in the San Pedro after he secured jockey Rafael Bejarano. Bejarano was aboard Flashmans Paper when he won his California debut in an optional claimer over six furlongs Dec. 4.

Flashmans Paper won the Logan by a half-length over Kelly Leak. Congor Bay, who finished third, is part of the San Pedro field and starts from the rail. Congor Bay won the first two races of his career, both on the Polytrack at Woodbine in October.

"He's got good natural speed," said Ricky Griffin, trainer Mark Casse's assistant.

Exercise rider breaks leg in spill

Chris Aplin, an exercise rider who works for trainer Bill Spawr, suffered a broken leg Saturday morning in a training accident when her mount, It's in the Fridge, suffered an apparent heart attack and died, Spawr said.

Aplin was scheduled to undergo surgery Saturday, Spawr said. Aplin operates a barber shop near the backstretch at Santa Anita and one in the clubhouse at Del Mar during that summertime race meeting.

It's in the Fridge finished seventh in a $25,000 claimer over six furlongs here Dec. 29. He had 1 win in 6 starts and earnings of $19,760.

* Indian Blessing, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes last month who is targeting the Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai, will not start against males in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap next Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert said Indian Blessing may start in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 31 or will be trained up to the Golden Shaheen.