Turfway breakdowns of concern to chief vet
THE recent rash of fatal breakdowns on the Pro Ride all-weather racing surface at Santa Anita has been compounded by news that eight horses at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky have suffered fatal breakdowns on the Polytrack surface since racing began there on November 30.
Six of the eight fatalities happened over an 11-day period of the 21-day meeting that ended December 31. That figure is double the number of fatal breakdowns that occurred in December 2007.
"We are very concerned about this injury rate," said Bryce Peckham, interim chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Turfway Park began racing on Polytrack in September of 2005 with hopes that the synthetic surface would provide safer racing as well as cutting the loss of fixtures during winter racing.
Turfway president Bob Elliston said: "We will not leave any stone unturned in trying to determine the cause of the breakdowns."
Jockeys have not voiced any concerns about the surface accordingto one source.
Peckham said that state officials will monitor what type of shoes each horse wears in a race - at least until the end of January.
Last year horsemen complained that the surface was "balling up" in horses' hooves. Turfway then altered the wax component in the Polytrack surface, which apparently solved the problem.
In Southern California, trainers met to discuss their concerns over the Pro Ride surface at Santa Anita.
Daily Racing Form also reported that the main track at Golden Gate Fields, which has a Tapeta surface, was closed for training on Monday and Tuesday after track general manager Robert Hartman received complaints from trainers concerning a recent increase in injuries there.
"We know where we need to go and we're trying to get back to where we were," said Hartman.
The Tapeta surface had been very well received atthe track since it was installed in 2007.
"It's like maintenance on a car, like changing the oil," said Hartman. "There is daily maintenance, and then bigger-picture refurbishment."