A Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory designed to enhance surface safety for horses and riders is being launched with the financial support of a broad industry coalition, it was announced last week by the laboratory’s coordinators Dr. Mick Peterson and Dr. Wayne McIlwraith.
The laboratory will provide science-based testing focused on the unique demands of horse racing. Such testing has long been sought after by track superintendents and will be provided for dirt and synthetic racetrack surfaces in collaboration with industry stakeholders.
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory will be constituted as a 501(c)(3) organization. The laboratory traces its roots to recommendations made at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summits, which were organized and underwritten by The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation in October 2006 and March 2008.
Peterson, a professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, and McIlwraith, a professor of surgery and the director of the Orthopaedic Research Center within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, are both members of the summit’s Racing Surfaces Committee.
Start-up funding in 2009 and 2010 is being provided by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Charities, the New York Racing Association, the Oak Tree Racing Association and The Jockey Club. Additional financial commitments have been received from Finger Lakes Racing Association, Keeneland Association and Turfway Park. The laboratory is encouraging other industry organizations to participate in the funding of the laboratory and track surface testing equipment.
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, which will be based in Orono, Maine, will focus on composition analysis and performance testing of dirt and synthetic surfaces materials. These measurements will help to increase consistency and reduce the possibility of injury to horses and riders