HISA Announces New Track Surface Advisory Group

Saratoga | Sarah Andrew

Edited Press Release

A new Track Surface Advisory Group, comprised of members who will be deployed by HISA to analyze dirt, turf and synthetic surface consistency at Thoroughbred racetracks across the U.S., was formed Thursday.

“This Group is crucial to ensuring that HISA can support local experts working to make the surfaces on which Thoroughbreds compete as safe as possible,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “HISA is committed to using all resources at its disposal to help tracks under our jurisdiction meet our Racetrack Safety standards. This group of track experts will be instrumental in our ability to protect equine athletes from potential injury caused by surface inconsistencies.”

The volunteer Advisory Group will be available to conduct on-site racetrack inspections as needs arise. They will examine conditions on the ground as well as historic and pre-meet inspection data compiled by the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL). The Group will make recommendations as needed to improve the consistency and maintenance of racing surfaces. Members of the newly formed Track Surface Advisory Group were already deployed to Saratoga Race Course to conduct a thorough review of the dirt and turf surfaces there in late August.

Going forward, the Group will advise HISA on track surface issues year-round and provide recommendations to HISA's Board of Directors as needed.

The Advisory Group is comprised of seven seasoned track superintendents whose expertise spans dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces. The individuals include:

Jim Pendergest, Chair, Director of Racing Surfaces, Keeneland; General Manager, The Thoroughbred Center.

Leif Dickinson, Turf Superintendent, 1/ST Racing / Gulfstream Park / Palm Meadows Training Center

Sean Gault, Retired Director of Thoroughbred Racing Surfaces, Woodbine Entertainment Group at Woodbine Racetrack

Glen Kozak, Vice President of Facilities and Racing Surfaces, NYRA

Jake Leitzel, Manager of Racetrack Maintenance, Penn National

Dennis Moore, Track Superintendent, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Racing Surface Consultant, 1/ST Racing

James “Jamie” Richardson, Track Superintendent, Churchill Downs

Mackenzie Rockefeller and Kaleb Dempsey will provide support to the Advisory Group, including via data analysis, testing equipment operations, material testing and historical data comparison. Rockefeller and Dempsey both work for the RSTL and have extensive backgrounds in track surface testing, research and diagnostics.

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