The Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which cancelled racing this weekend after two fatalities at Laurel Park Thursday, issued a new statement late Saturday regarding the status of the Laurel surface.
The statement appears in full below:
The Maryland Jockey Club has cancelled its Thursday, Apr. 27 racing program at Laurel Park due to insufficient entries. The racing office will be open and taking entries Sunday for the Friday, Apr. 28 program.
We acknowledge the recent statements in the press regarding the safety of our racing surface. However, we want to emphasize that 1/ST Racing and the Maryland Jockey Club prioritize safety above all else, and continually engage in proactive analysis of our racing and training surfaces. To this end, we have engaged the services of Dennis Moore, a renowned industry expert, who has been conducting routine testing of the Laurel Park racing surface for the past three days. Dennis, along with independent engineering experts, have performed a comprehensive battery of tests during this time, to ensure the safety of our racing surface.
Particle size distribution via the following methods:
- Laser diffraction
- Sieve and hydrometer
- Orono Biomechanical Surface Test (ASTM Standard F3400)
- Peak Vertical Load
- Peak Fore-Aft Load
- Peak Vertical Deacceleration
- Ground Penetrating Radar
- Percentage surface crossfall
- Bulk Density
- X-ray diffraction
- Base inspection
The results of these tests were all within industry norms. Based on these tests and their professional knowledge, our track experts have advised that there are no issues with the track and that it is safe to race and train.
In addition, Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, Director of Equine Safety and Welfare with HISA, has at our request reviewed Laurel's fatality data and stated, “I've reviewed the data provided to me this morning by the Maryland Racing Commission and find a racing fatality rate at Laurel of approximately 1.3/1,000 starts since January 1st. By comparison, the Equine Injury Database shows a rate of approximately 1.98/1,000 at this same point (through Apr. 21) last year.” As stated the current fatality rate has decreased from last year at the same point.
Even though the track surface is within industry standards certain Horseman have determined not to submit entries for this Thursday's racing card. Hopefully after reviewing the facts live racing will proceed.
We hope that all stakeholders will be able to come to a consensus and adopt the enhanced veterinary and safety protocols that have been implemented with great success in California. MJC has made repeated requests of the horsemen and are still waiting for their approval to be able to move forward with their implementation.
While we all know that catastrophic injuries will not be eliminated completely it is clear from the above that our track is not the issue, and we urge the Commission and the MTHA to take advantage of the proven enhancements to improve horse safety.
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