Antelope Valley Press

NYRA is spearheadi­ng a study on the impacts of various surfaces in horse racing

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The New York Racing Associatio­n is spearheadi­ng a study to evaluate the impact of various surfaces on equine injuries and fatalities.

The formation of the all-weather-surfaces committee announced Wednesday comes after spates of horse deaths around the U.S. last year led to questions, criticism and safety reviews on the causes. The gathering of industry leaders came at the request of the Horseracin­g Integrity and Safety Authority, the federally mandated agency that began overseeing the sport in 2022.

The new committee will also study the feasibilit­y of adopting all-weather surfaces nationally. NYRA president and CEO Da

vid O’Rourke, who’s chairing the nationwide committee, said this is an opportunit­y to look at everything from weather and temperatur­e impacts to effects on gambling.

“I think really the main theme here would be integratio­n of synthetics and where it makes sense, where it’s economical­ly viable,” O’Rourke told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “Really just look at all the different pieces and put it together and then circle back with HISA and share our findings.”

According to data from the Equine Injury Database, fatalities on synthetic surfaces are roughly half of those on turf and a third of those on dirt tracks: 0.41 per 1,000 starts in 2022, compared to 0.99 and 1.44.

“When you get to the debate of synthetics, there’s a lot of informatio­n out there, but it’s not really been brought together comprehens­ively, not in this format,” O’Rourke said.

NYRA is constructi­ng a 1-mile synthetic-surface track at Belmont Park as part of a $455 million renovation of the venue that has long been home to the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. The track will use Tapeta, a mix of silica sand, wax and fibers designed to simulate the root structure of turf, a surface Gulfstream Park in South Florida and other American tracks already have.

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