Page 17 - June 2008 The Game
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Canada’s Thoroughbred Racing Newspaper The Game, June 2008 17 Racing Safety Summit held at Woodbine
The Ontario Summit on Racing Safety in Thoroughbred Racehorses was held on May 13 in the Northern Dancer Room at Woodbine
that Polytrack is better than the other surfaces tested. The midstance phase of the horse’s gait is when the
maximum force is applied to the foot and can be one of the most important factors to injury. At midstance the force can be 2.5 times the horse’s bodyweight.
When measuring the maximum force at
midstance, the results showed that there was not a lot of difference between the turf and Polytrack.
During the breakover phase, the timing of the hoof leaving the ground, non of the track surfaces varied at this stage.
According to Dr. Thomason, the hypothesis from the study revealed that arti cial surfaces do cush- ion impact and take some of the stress from fetlock and lower limb bones however arti cial surfaces do alter the timing of the limb motion and muscle contraction (like running on a trampoline) possibly leading to fatigue or excessive contraction. Dr. Thomason added that the primary cause of injury usually occurs before racing.
Other speakers at the Summit included:
Dr. Mark Hurtig, Director, Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph - who discussed Osteoarthritis and fractures in racehorses. How they may happen.
Dr. Chris Riggs, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong - who discussed What we have learned about race- horse musculoskeletal injuries in Hong Kong.
Dr. Antonio Cruz, Equine Surgeon, Ontar-
io Veterinary College, Thoroughbred Racing Injuries Study Director, University of Guelph - who discussed Musculoskeletal Injuries in Ontario Thoroughbreds - An Update.
Dr. Luis Rubio, Graduate Student, CORL, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph - who discussed Mechanical and structural properties of cannon bones in thoroughbred horses.
and Dr. Juan Tabar and Richele Neundorf, Graduate Students, CORL, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph - who discussed Current research in thoroughbred racing injuries.
For more information on the Summit and
for information on how you can contribute to research funding contact the University of Guelph 519-824-4120, ext. 53457 or
Racetrack in Toronto.
Organized by The Comparative Orthopaedic
Research Laboratory (CORL), the Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Guelph, the Summit provided thoroughbred horse people the opportunity to meet and discuss issues related to musculoskel- etal injuries in racehorses with researchers from The University of Guelph, Colorado State University and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Ontario Summit on Racing Safety in Thoroughbred Racehorses Speakers:
Back row left to right: Dr.Antonio Cruz; Dr. Jeff Thomason;Richele Neundorf;Dr.JuanTabar;and Dr. Luis Rubio. Front row left to right: Dr.Wayne McIlwraith; Dr. Mark Hurtig; and Dr. Chris Riggs
The main focus of the Summit was to promote the welfare and safety of the racehorse with the help of the ongoing research on the potential causes of catastrophic injuries as well as the promotion of consistent and safe racetrack surfaces.
Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, Equine Surgeon, Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Colorado State University and Chair of Committee on Racing Surfaces, Jockey Club, discussed the issue of race- track surfaces and the Jockey Club initiative of certi cation of tracks surfaces for safety and perfor- mance.
horse; conformation and shoeing; medication; and soundness etc.
Dr. McIlwraith mentioned that although surfaces have improved over the past half century, perfor- mance and safety testing is important to continue to improve the surfaces that horses run over at the racetracks.
Dr. Jeff Thomason, Researcher, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, spoke of research recently conducted in Ontario to determine if the Polytrack surface at Woodbine is a safer surface for horseracing.
A Biomechanical Hoof Tester, in essence an arti cial mechanical hoof, is currently being to used to simulate the effects of the forces of the hoof at various racetracks across the United States. The hoof allows to measure the surface based on Impact, Stance, Break-over and Swing phases of the horses gait while racing and the effect that that particular racing surface would have on the horse.
“Race track properties themselves are not the only component for racing injury.” said Thomason, who prefaced his  ndings by stating, “Factors in track injuries are not usually restricted to a single com- ponent. The track surface is only one component in many factors that could cause injury.”
They are also measuring composition of the racetracks for wax composition and tempera-
ture sensitivity on synthetic surfaces and ground penetration tools for diagnosing base problems with dirt surfaces.
Dr. Thomason used the  ndings from a recent experiment comparing track surfaces from a bio- mechanical perspective which involved attaching sensors to the hooves of eleven thoroughbred horses in an active training/racing program.
The experiment included 4 different track surfaces; dirt training at a racing stable farm, turf training at
a racing stable farm, turf surface at Woodbine and Polytrack surface at Woodbine.
All horses were ridden over the same furlong, at the same speed with the same weight.
Looking at the effect of Impact on the horse, the results showed that the frequency of vibrations
was lowest on Polytrack however Dr. Thomason concluded that while Polytrack did soften the impact, the differences were not substantial enough to say
With their research they are working towards
a standard maintenance system as well as a maintenance reporting system to measure daily performance and composition of racetrack surfaces throughout the US. They are hoping to combine this with baseline data of day to day injury rates to better understand and to help further prevent injuries.
Dr. McIlwraith also mentioned that other factors need to be considered when looking at safety issues. These factors include: fragility/durability of the race-
His  ndings revealed that, yes, the biomechanical data looks good, and no, the epidemiological data shows little improvement.
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The Game JUNE 2008.indd 17
5/27/08 11:30:05 PM

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