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Churchill and synthetic

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  • Churchill and synthetic

    Do you think this will push the issue?
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.

  • #2
    No. There is an unknown right now about synthetic tracks because of Santa Anita and the increase in soft tissue injuries.

    From a betting perspective I despise synthetic tracks. The races are flukey and you might as well not buy a racing form.


    • #3
      I hope not. It would be a knee-jerk reaction and there is not yet conclusive evidence that any of the synthetics are a superior surface.


      • Original Poster

        I think that racing, like eventing, can not afford to appear to not be doing 'everything' to make the sport safer for the horses. And that is how that appears.
        We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


        • #5
          I would like to see more study over time on synthetics - there is still much we don't know, as Santa Anita's problems proved. And like a comment I read somewhere but can't remember the citation for, if as much money was put into studying and making the best dirt track possible as has been put into replacing surfaces with synthetics, what kind of difference would that make?

          However, if I were going to put one thing at the top of my "racing needs to change this" list, it would not be the track surface. It would be breeding and then further breeding and then inbreeding on unsoundness.


          • #6
            Here's a link to an article talking about this (article ran prior to the Derby):


            Quote: "The new materials are designed to better protect animals and jockeys from catastrophic injuries, a necessity no one disputes. A new on-track injury reporting program seems to indicate the surface is having the desired effect.

            Reports by veterinarians at 34 tracks across the country between June 2007 and early this year showed synthetic tracks averaged 1.47 fatalities per 1,000 starts, compared with 2.03 fatalities per 1,000 starts for horses that ran on dirt."


            • #7
              Unfortunately that kind of statistic contains an inherent bias: All things are not equal across all tracks, so comparing the mortality/injury statistics across them with only the track surface used as the variable is unreliable. What needs to be studied is over time what impact has the surface change had on the mortality/injury statistics for the given tracks, with a control group of tracks not making the conversion. If those with the synthetic demonstrate that that one change significantly lessened the number of 'events' per thousand horses, it would be meaningful, as long as the control group didn't demonstrate the same or comparable lessening.
              Arendal Arabians and Sanctuary


              • #8
                Oh, I'm sure all that is being studied, but all things will never be equal at all tracks. One track could be full of trainers who condition their horses superbly and would never ever run a sore horse, while another track might have more than its share of two-bit trainers who don't. That will certainly skew the results. But if injuries and fatalities start dropping at the synthetic tracks far more than at the others, that's something. Have to admit, though, that I'll really miss "that sound" of all those galloping hoofs. Worth the trade-off for welfare issues, but you do what you gotta do.


                • #9
                  It's entirely possible that preventing catastrophic breakdowns may result in more mild injuries being reported, because instead of a catastrophic injury, a mild injury occurs.

                  When motorcycle helmet legislation came out, many people sited the increased neck injuries that the statistics showed. Supporters countered that of course, people aren't dying of catastrophic head crushing injuries - so we wind up with a live person and a neck injury. And then the debates started about which was better....to be alive with a neck injury or dead with a crushed skull.

                  It's quite possible that a catastrophic injury IS very often just a mild injury, until the animal hits a deep or hard spot (even with the most skilled track preparation in the world, it's still a natural surface and subject to some variation). It's quite possible that if you prevent the severe injury, you still are going to see a mild injury. It's quite possible that the synthetic surfaces prevent a mild injury from exploding.

                  If you have 2 breakdowns instead of 24 during a race meet, as one track did, you might wind up with 12 or 18 or even 24 mild injuries. That may make perfect sense.

                  That's the sort of thing statistics have a very hard time showing - that severe injuries just become mild injuries, rather than what is being charged, that a whole new group of mild injuries are occuring.

                  You can't have a real 'control' group in that sort of study, and you can't have two groups of identical horses, one group on synthetic and one on natural surfaces.

                  There is a very natural and well-established habit of horsepeople to resist change and new materials. However....the numbers in favor of synthetic surfaces are completely overwhelming. It does in fact vastly reduce the number of severe breakdowns. It usually takes time to perfect new technology - human athletic surfaces did take some time. But they still may be the solution.

                  We may have to embrace this new technology. Otherwise, we may see horse racing be completely banned. THe general public does not like these things - young horses breaking down and euthenized in front of millions of people. Racing is by its own reports struggling to draw in an audience these days, especially among young people.

                  Horse racing lovers may have no choice but to embrace new technology. It may be the only way to keep racing around.


                  • #10
                    There is also a real question that needs to be answered before we put synthetics down everywhere about the impact to both the horses (and people) of breathing the surface in. It's reminiscent of asbestos (not saying it is, but the concept of the debris byproduct in the air) and there has been some serious discussion of that and it needs to be monitored.
                    "To understand the soul of a horse is the closest human beings can come to knowing perfection."


                    • #11
                      I think that can be managed. I have asthma and am very badly affected by any particulate matter, and I do very well around synthetic riding surfaces....HOWEVER....I think we also have to accept that synthetic surfaces ARE coming...already 1 state is mandating their use....I also think we have to accept that it may be that or kiss racing goodbye....and that the synthetic surfaces will improve with time. Synthetics are already being used for other riding sports...they can be developed and improved for racing.


                      • #12
                        You can view a report on synthetic turf from the December '07 issue of The Horse by clicking here. You must register to view it, but that can be done in a moment's time.

                        There is also a detailed report on synthetic surfaces from The Bloodhorse available here.
                        The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                        Winston Churchill


                        • #13
                          According to talk around CD, they will NEVER install polytrack. It would diminish what they are so proud of: Fast numbers on the track.

                          While I am no expert on either surface, I found that River Downs' dirt track seems to be one of the safest surfaces around. This is coming from trainers who run their horses at various venues in the area.
                          \"Horses lend us the wings we lack\"


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by luvmytbs View Post
                            According to talk around CD, they will NEVER install polytrack. It would diminish what they are so proud of: Fast numbers on the track.

                            While I am no expert on either surface, I found that River Downs' dirt track seems to be one of the safest surfaces around. This is coming from trainers who run their horses at various venues in the area.

                            Actually if they want fast numbers, they should go to Polytrack. AP and Keeneland are ridiculous in cool weather or rain. They have had 3 new track records in two days at AP. Maiden claimers ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.2.

                            I wish all the tracks would keep their tracks deep, a lot of the cheap tracks are deeper and have a lot less breakdowns thanks to the extra cushion.


                            • #15
                              i don't feel a lot of cushion and real deep is the answer either. You may not get as many fractures but it is very hard on tendons.