Big bucks and high tech could help solve problem of fatal thoroughbred injuries
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WAVE) – At horse racing tracks across the country, experts are literally digging into the dirt, looking for solutions to the problem of fatal thoroughbred injuries.
“What we need to make sure is that when you go to the races or you watch the races on TV, you're confident you're not going to see a horse get hurt or a rider get hurt,” said Michael “Mick” Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs said. “And we’re not there yet.”
A track surface expert, Peterson was the lead investigator in 2019 at Santa Anita after 49 horses died in 12 months of racing. He was also the lead in an investigation at Churchill Downs in 2018 after four horses suffered fatal injuries over four consecutive days.
At each track and in each investigation his findings were inconclusive.
However, at a time when the sport is under intense pressure, Peterson's Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RTSL) literally puts horse tracks under the microscope. He believes consistency in track surfaces could be the key to preventing future injuries.
“We want when the horse steps from this part of the track to this part of the track to this part of the track, to have an identical surface,” Peterson said. “You've probably heard way too many times the horse took a bad step. That's what we want to eliminate right here.”
The Jockey Club in Lexington announced Tuesday it had invested more than $750,000 in new equipment developed at Peterson’s lab to test track consistency across the country.
“These additional assets will enable us to expand the RSTL such that no longer will we be faced with difficult decisions of where to deploy the assets among racetracks opening during the same week,” Peterson said.
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