NYRA's O'Rourke Chairs All-Weather Surfaces Committee

David O'Rourke | Coglianese

The New York Racing Association has announced the formation of an All-Weather Surfaces Committee to study the impact of various racing surfaces on equine injury rates. According to a Wednesday NYRA press release, the committee, which first met last October, will evaluate safety metrics from tracks utilizing all-weather racing surfaces, as well as study the feasibility of broader adoption of all-weather surfaces nationally.

The committee, chaired by NYRA CEO and President David O'Rourke, was formed at the request of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, as part of HISA's strategic response to several clusters of equine fatalities in 2023.

In addition to O'Rourke, members of the committee also include Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell, Breeders' Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming, 1/ST Racing and Gaming Executive Vice Chairman Craig Fravel, and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President  Josh Rubinstein.

“Embracing science and technology will ensure the continued success of Thoroughbred racing in the United States,” said O'Rourke. “All-weather racing surfaces can play an important role in our collective efforts to improve safety, and I thank Lisa Lazarus and HISA for the opportunity to advance this discussion among decision makers in the sport.”

The committee is expected to convene regularly in the coming months and will share its findings and recommendations with HISA's Racetrack Safety Committee and with other stakeholders across the sport when complete.

“HISA is grateful to NYRA and to David O'Rourke for leading this effort, and to all the members of the committee for their dedication to equine safety,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “This committee's work will be essential in deepening our understanding of all-weather surfaces, and we look forward to reviewing the results when complete.”

NYRA is in the process of constructing a one-mile Tapeta track to serve as the fourth racing surface at the new Belmont Park. Previously, NYRA installed a Tapeta pony track at Belmont to provide an additional training option in inclement weather, while also providing NYRA with information on the performance of a synthetic surface in the Long Island climate.

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