03/17/2008 11:00PM

Summit calls for collection of surface data

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The racing industry should develop a database of racetrack maintenance procedures and conditions in an effort to improve the consistency and safety of both traditional and synthetic racing surfaces, participants in a two-day meeting in Lexington, Ky., focusing on equine health and safety issues said on Tuesday.

The database would include reports from racetrack superintendents detailing temperature, humidity, precipitation, maintenance efforts, and other factors, according to the participants in the Welfare and Safety Summit, as a way to analyze how weather and work affect a track's condition.

The database recommendation was one of several issued at the end of the summit, which was put on for the second time in 18 months by The Jockey Club and held at Keeneland Racecourse. Sixty-two racing officials and scientists participated this year.

The racing-surfaces database would be similar to an effort launched at the conclusion of the previous summit to track racetrack injuries through a standard form. After the 2006 summit ended, Dr. Mary Scollay, the Florida state veterinarian, developed the standard form and began collecting data in June of last year of the injuries that occurred at 42 racetracks.

Ed Bowen, the president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, said that Dr. Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine who has been conducting research on racing surfaces, would develop the form for racetrack conditions and maintenance.

Also, the participants committed to creating a panel to study racetrack injuries and develop a standard prerace examination form for veterinarians to use. Scollay volunteered to create the form.