Large Fields, Quality Racing Mark Successful Del Mar Meet

Del Mar marked eight weeks of increased field sizes and high-quality racing that ended Sunday. "Overall, just a tremendous summer of quality racing," Racing Secretary David Jerkens says. "Especially Pacific Classic Day. You look back and see how strong of a card that was. I think some of the winners and horses that ran well on that card have bright futures for the Breeders' Cup." The talk around the racing industry is the field sizes again this year at Del Mar. "It was a robust number that I think any...

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HISA Announces New Track Surface Advisory Group

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...

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Letter To The Editor: It All Begins With Churchill Downs

Horse racing is at an existential moment. Just weeks after a series of breakdowns at Churchill Downs cast a shadow over the Kentucky Derby, a wave of horrifying horse deaths at Saratoga Race Course has once again brought questions about safety to the forefront of public consciousness. This is a tragedy, as every horse that breaks down also breaks our hearts. However, I believe our sport has reached a tipping point, and I predict there will be a Silver Lining emerging from all these tragedies. In the past week, I...

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The Dirt-Versus-Synthetic Debate: Gold Cup Starter Tyson Could Provide Some Answers

Does dirt form transfer over to synthetic tracks and vice versa? And do the progeny of traditional Kentucky-based dirt stallions run, for the most part, just as well on synthetic as they do on dirt? These are some of the many questions being asked after a rash of breakdowns over the last few months has led some to call for synthetic tracks, which, statistics show, are safer than dirt and turf courses, to replace dirt tracks. While one horse and one race is not much of a sample size, the...

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Letter to the Editor: Armen Antonian

The "Quick Fix" of Synthetics is Not the Answer Horse racing has been down the path of synthetics before at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Keeneland, etc. Much time was lost, approximately a decade ago, with a focus on changing surfaces as a panacea for horse racing breakdowns. We now know there are other causes for horse breakdowns that are more prevailing. The greatest single cause of racing deaths has to do with pre-existing conditions of the horse, and only in particular instances is the surface itself the primary reason for...

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Letter To the Editor: Dirt, Synthetic and Sprints

It is with a lot interest that I read the two Op/Eds from Earl Mack and Bill Finley published this week about the dirt vs. synthetic surfaces, and, although the numbers speak for themselves, I think we should look at another factor. A lot more sprints are being run on dirt than either turf or synthetic. The composition of the dirt surface makes speed the best asset for horses who compete and it is common to see fractions of sub-22 seconds for a first 1/4 of a mile, and over...

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Dirt, Turf, and Synthetic by the Numbers

After the TDN published two opinion pieces which recommended a return to synthetic surfaces, one by Earle Mack in the May 31 TDN and one by Bill Finley in this Monday's TDN, we have been inundated by comments, questions, and opinions about the relative safety of one surface versus another. Some of the questions asked for a year-by-year comparison, while other comments cited statistics that were not correct. Courtesy of The Jockey Club's Equine Injury database, here are the figures of racing fatalities per thousand starters, year by year for...

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Saudi Arabian Dirt Likely for Oxted

Group 1 winner Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) is likely for the six-furlong Riyadh Dirt Sprint instead of the 1351 Turf Sprint at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 20. A winner of the G3 Abernant S. last June, the bay gelding added the G1 July Cup at Newmarket one month later. After undergoing wind surgery, Oxted resumed with a fifth in the Oct. 17 QIPCO British Champions Sprint S. "At the moment we are favouring the dirt really because it's six furlongs," said trainer Roger Teal, whose son Harry will...

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