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

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...

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Woodbine's GIII Seaway S. Goes Sunday

Woodbine Racetrack isn't done with the graded entertainment as the GIII Seaway S. for 3-year-old fillies and mares going seven furlongs takes to the Tapeta on Sunday. Drawn to the outside is the last out winner of the GIII Trillium S. July 23 in Toronto, Il Malocchio (Souper Speedy). Cutting back, the Martin Drexler trainee is the morning-line favorite at 5-2. The 5-year-old will face eight others, including Catherine Day-Phillips trainee Millie Girl (Hard Spun), who finished third in the June 3 GII Royal North S. and in the same...

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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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Mark Casse Advocates for Synthetic on Writers' Room

In the wake of a tragic stretch of breakdowns at Saratoga, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse joined this week's TDN Writers' Room to advocate for a switch to synthetic, a surface which he considers far safer and easier on horses than dirt, and admit that he is not as proud to represent this industry as he once was.

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Mark Casse: “I'm Not Proud Of Our Sport”

Appearing as the Green Group Guest of the Week on this week's TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse grew emotional when the subject of the rash of fatalities that have plagued the sport this year came up. Believing that the industry has not done all that it can to help alleviate the situation and that tracks must embrace a return to synthetic surfaces, Casse admitted that his outlook on his profession and the sport has changed for the worse. "This is sad to...

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With Woodbine Continuing To Compile Admirable Safety Numbers, Lawson Remains Big Fan Of Synthetic Surfaces

When it comes to breakdowns, the Tapeta surface at Woodbine isn't perfect. But it might be as close to perfect as any surface on the continent. While horses throughout North America broke down on the dirt at a rate of 1.44 per 1,000 starts in 2022, the rate of breakdowns over the synthetic surface at Woodbine was 0.42. This year, after about 4,500 starts over Tapeta there have been only two fatalities during races. Also, there have been about 14,000 published workouts over Woodbine's synthetic tracks and only two fatalities...

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`We're Not Going to Have to Worry About Tradition. We're Going to Be History.' Q and A With Mark Casse

Mark Casse may have made more starts over dirt and synthetic surfaces combined than any other trainer in history-over 5,000 starts on synthetic and 5,000 on dirt in the past 15 years alone. He estimates that he has sent horses out to gallop, breeze, or race over a synthetic surface 150,000 times in the past 10 years.  With a base at Woodbine, where they race and train over a Tapeta surface which sports one of the lowest instances of catastrophic injuries in North America, Casse offered to sit down with...

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Letter To The Editor: The Numbers Speak Loudly

After reading the various commentaries over recent days by Ambassador Mack and Bill Finley and the Letters to the TDN Editor on the synthetics debate, I heard Bill say during this week's TDN Writer's Room that we could reduce fatalities by the hundreds with a surface shift. A close analysis shows the numbers are much greater than that. First a step back. The industry needs a revamp in the way we present this discussion to the public at large and those opponents who would have our "social license" go the...

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Dickinson Honored With Galbreath Award

The University of Louisville Equine Industry Program has named Michael Dickinson the 33rd recipient of the John W. Galbreath Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurship in the Equine Industry. In addition to training, Dickinson is also known for developing Tapeta Footings, the synthetic surface widely utilized for both racing and training. Tapeta has been installed at Turfway Park in Kentucky and at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Golden Gate Fields in California and Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania, as well as facilities in Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom....

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NYRA's Renovation of Belmont's Pony Track Complete

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has installed a Tapeta Footings synthetic surface at Belmont's pony track, located just to the northeast of Belmont's training track. The quarter-mile pony track, which is used mostly for jogging horses, will be open seven days a week from 5:30-10:30 a.m. beginning Tuesday, Dec. 6. "Modern synthetic surfaces have a wide range of applications for horsemen and track operators alike, and we look forward to working with the product every day and in all seasons at Belmont Park," said Glen Kozak, NYRA Senior...

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Op/Ed: The King of Sports

Throughout the nation, the horse racing industry is under both increased scrutiny and pressure to reduce the number of equine fatalities and breakdowns. While progress has been made at many tracks, in recent years, i.e. Turfway, Woodbine, Golden Gate, and Gulfstream, there is less of a tolerance than ever for equine injuries and fatalities, as doping scandals have marred our most cherished events and as advocates and animal rights groups such as PETA have gained momentum. Horse racing is under real pressure to enhance safety, with many critics seeking to...

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Unbeaten Lady Speightspeare Makes All-Weather Debut in Bessarabian

'TDN Rising Star' Lady Speightspeare (Speightstown), three-for-three on turf to start her career, will try all-weather racing for the first time Saturday at Woodbine, going seven furlongs on the Tapeta in the GII Bessarabian S. A sharp 3 3/4-length frontrunning winner debuting on the local turf last August to earn her 'Rising Star' badge, the Chuck Fipke homebred quickly backed up that distinction with a score in the GI Natalma S. The chestnut was sidelined for nearly a year after that, however, before returning with an optional claiming success in...

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