There are some new happenings going on at Santa Anita Park as they are looking into the possibility of removing the dirt surface, where the majority of the track’s 36 horse deaths since December have occurred and going back to a synthetic surface called Polytrack.
This is according to Dr. Dionne Benson, the chief veterinary officer for The Stronach Group, which owns the track. The drastic measure is being explored as a way to curtail the spate of deaths at the track.
What is Polytrack
In 2007, Santa Anita installed Polytrack, which is a mixture of silica sand, synthetic carpet fibers, elastic fiber and granulated recycled rubber with a wax coating after the California Horse Racing Board mandated the change for all of the state’s thoroughbred racetracks.
Unfortunately, the surface experienced drainage problems that cost the track eleven racing days and it was eventually replaced by another brand of synthetic that failed to perform adequately under the extreme temperatures in Arcadia, California.
Statistics showed synthetics reduced the number of equine fatalities in California.
However, trainers and bettors were among those opposing the surface change and Santa Anita returned to dirt in 2010.
Hollywood Park and its artificial surface went away in 2013 when the track closed. That forced the hand of Del Mar, north of San Diego, to return to dirt in 2015, leaving the Stronach-owned Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area as the last remaining artificial track in the state.
Los Alamitos in Orange County still races on dirt.
The failed experiment cost an estimated $40 million to install artificial surfaces statewide.
Among the lessons learned from California’s initial attempt was that synthetic tracks are inconsistent and challenging to maintain from morning training hours to afternoon racing. Heavy track usage wore down the materials quickly, and more watering was often needed to obtain the correct consistency.
Track surface is just one factor that contributes to horse safety. There are many other changes that were addressed. The Stronach Group ushered in changes in medication rules, new requirements for morning training, and added additional veterinary staff to increase examinations of horses before they race among other measures to improve horse safety after strong public outcry and criticism from Governor Gavin Newsom.
It seems like a change in the track at Santa Anita is exactly what is needed. It is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. And remember that racehorsemeds.com not only has your thoroughbred needs but has all of your equine, alpaca, camel and pigeon supplements, vitamins and performance products. Our online superstore is easy to navigate and our prices are amazingly low. If you need amino acids, bleeding products, calming products & sedatives, explosion products, joint supplements, pastes & powders, post-race recovery supplements, stomach medicines, weight & conditioning supplements, blood builders, breathing & respiratory agents, pain supplements, performance supplements, power builders, and buffers.