Hotter Than Hades

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This weekend is gonna be hotter than the Georgia asphalt. – Horses and human athletes alike could’ve been put in great danger when the heat index started skyrocketing. – I know, we’re going to miss a weekend of racing action. But, for the good of all who make the game happen this one makes sense. – Maybe Hades is a little over the top, but after this weekend we’ll all be counting the days until fall racing.

I was reading John Cherwa’s newsletter from the Los Angeles Times. – After his interview with a pretty sharp veterinarian. I have a new outlook when the heat gets ugly.

Monmouth, which is a couple miles from the Atlantic Ocean, is instituting heat protocols that it hopes will minimize the risk to horses. There are more vets and water trucks to immediately cool down horses if needed.

I contacted Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, to have him explain things.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from that story to help you to understand how heat decisions are made.

“The humidity is really the most important factor in a horse’s ability to dissipate heat, Arthur said. The heat index at Santa Anita on these high, hot summers is not a problem. Now you do see problems when the weather turns quickly. But there are more problems in February when the temperature goes from 65 to 85 than when it goes from 85 to 95 or 100 in the summer.”

“The heat index is a combination of heat and humidity. Meteorologists like to use the phrase ‘feels like [temperature]’ as a way to explain it.”

“Arthur has a simpler way of computing the danger, just add the temperature and humidity and you shouldn’t worry until it gets around 160 to 165. Even when the temperature is 90 to 100 at Santa Anita, the heat index is higher at Del Mar when it’s in the 80s,’ Arthur said. ‘That has to do with the humidity. Track vets and trainers are attuned at what to look for when horses are being affected by the heat. They become more anxious, they start to back up, throw their head back and start pawing the ground.”

“Unlike dogs, horses are like humans and they lose heat by sweating,’ Arthur said. ‘If you put water on them it takes the heat off. That’s why horses are sponged sometimes before or in the paddock and certainly after the races.”


Ellis Park is planning to run a July 29th card on a Monday. – Other tracks were planning extra races or maybe trying a race card on a new day as an experiment. – There’s plenty of races to get us through the next couple of days, and looking back we’ll be glad we chose safety over trying to make money with racing handle. – Sit back, grab a cool drink, and watch a few top-notch races from Monmouth and Del Mar. There are a few other tracks able to run and by this time next weekend we’ll be looking back and glad we chose the safest route. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies! – Stay cool!