In a landmark white paper on the search for safer racing surfaces,
Michael “Mick” Peterson, Ph.D., University of Maine, United States
Lars Roepstorff, DVM, PhD, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
Jeffrey J. Thomason, PhD, University of Guelph, Canada
Christie Mahaffey, MPhil, University of Maine, United States
C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, Colorado State University, United States
share their latest research and findings:
A safe surface is one for which the surface properties (to be detailed later in the paper) have been designed to prevent injury. Current evidence indicates that consistency of each surface and limited variability among surfaces seen by each horse are more important than the exact values of each property. Consistency allows for the horse to adapt through training. Having said that, a greater understanding of the role of the track in the causation of injury is a prerequisite for safer track and surface design. A trial‐and‐error approach to building a safe surface, without studying causes of injury,would be to lay down a number of surfaces, test the properties, and compare frequencies of injuryamong surface types. This is essentially the current situation, which is cumbersome and expensive (in dollar terms, as well as in the cost to horse welfare) as a means of identifying the qualities of a safe track.
A scientifically more robust approach is to aim for understanding of the combinations and ranges of properties that make a surface safe, and why those combinations prevent injury. This approach is complicated because there are four intervening categories – degrees of separation, if you like – between the surface properties and knowing how to prevent the many and varied injuries that occur in race horses.
For full text see the Grayson-Jockey Club’s Racing Surfaces White Paper