Is The Jury Still Out?

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 30, 2008 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, News | No Comments >>

Next Tuesday, there will be an artificial track forum at Saratoga Springs. It will be from 6a -9a in the Fasig-Tipton Sales Arena. It is free to the public, and should be a modern day witch hunt.

The New York State Task Force on Retired Racehorses will gather and tell the world about the greatest invention on earth. They will weigh out the cost / benefit. They will talk about the best, and safest current surface in the making.  They claim it reduces stress and cuts back on injury.  Currently all 4 tracks in New York are dirt.

Nick Zito refuses to attend, and has reservations about the surface. Other top name trainers will be there and they will chime in about this $10 -15 million dollar investment. I have a question. Has there been any studies about breathing issues? Would it be better for a horse to smoke three packs a day versus inhaling carpet fibers into their lungs? How can something synthetic pass through a body? Do we know the long term effects? Will this affect the breeding industry?

I have spoke to many trainers and they believe that the surface masks injuries. All the while we think runners are doing well, and a great majority do come back a tighter animal. They start to show injuries again once they take to dirt. Now, is that the argument? Is it that the mega companies want to hawk shredded carpet fibers? Have they not scoped a horse and kept records? I know, more questions and no answers. But that is the case. Just buy this magic carpet and you’ll have a safer track.  I don’t buy it. There needs to be a study. A complete unbiased study. How does it affect breathing? Why is it that runners take two times off of the polytrack and come back to form on the dirt? It takes a while for the real training to get back into the horse. They need a bit of a hard pounding, and keeping strong and fit. This has been the way for the past few hundred years.

How will this investment affect the smaller tracks? Can they afford the expense? Probably not, and they have had racing at their venues since the early 1900’s. Be careful what you wish for. Southern California has had issues, and do we have enough evidence? I think the jury should stay and deliberate for a while as racing continues. How about the first Saturday in May? Now picture all of the history gone in a flash.