06/15/2011 2:42PM

Jockey Club panel releases track-surface research

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A paper summarizing research on track surfaces and the forces that affect a horse’s limbs while racing was released on Wednesday by the Jockey Club’s Racing Surfaces Committee.

The paper, which was published by the coordinators of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, was distributed on Wednesday to participants in the Annual Track Superintendents’ Field Day Conference, which began on Tuesday and runs through Thursday at Parx Racing in Philadelphia.

The 34-page paper provides an extensive review of the available scientific studies that have examined factors that influence the composition and maintenance of racetracks, along with a discussion of the physical forces that are encountered by limbs when impacting the surfaces. It does not, however, include recommendations on improving maintenance of tracks or the safety of horses, citing the need for more research and the “multi-variable” nature of injuries.

“Veterinarians, engineers, and soil scientists have all studied racing surfaces, but it has been a modest body of study,” said Dr. Mick Peterson, one of the authors. “This paper will tell researchers and scientists what we don’t know and confirm once again that actions taken to improve safety should be based on sound science and published research.”

The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory was founded in 2009 and is funded by a broad array of racing organizations, including the Jockey Club. The lab was launched as part of a larger effort by the racing industry to examine the health and safety of racing participants.

The paper can be found at grayson-jockeyclub.org/resources/White_Paper_final.pdf.