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Synthetic Tracks Causing Increased Rider Injuries, Jockeys Say

It’s an issue that jockeys have been talking about for years.

The number of serious injuries at tracks with synthetic surfaces.

But they don’t have enough statistics to show racing authorities.

The synthetic surfaces have been added in an effort to reduce catastrophic breakdowns in horses, and nearly every track is participating in a study compiling equine injury statistics on all racing surfaces.

Riders would like to see a similar effort to compile human injury rates on synthetic surfaces, which often feature well-bunched fields into the stretch, as well as the traditional surfaces.

Rider Jeff Johnston asked an insurance expert if statistics comparing injury rates on the two surfaces would be available. John Unick, president of the Thoroughbred Racing Division of Maroevich, O’Shea, and Coghlan Insurance Services said such information is tracked.

“Frequency is the most telling statistic,” Unick said. “Severity is something that could happen almost anywhere.”

Unick said jockeys should work with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance to study these statistics.

We think this should be done.

We think riders should begin gathering information and statistics on this issue.

We are square behind the riders.

The jockeys also noted that because of the tough economy, some tracks have reduced the number of people working on their gate crews and that those reductions are creating safety risks.

What do you think? Let me know and we’ll keep an eye on this important issue.



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