SYNTHETIC TRACKS: Jury Still Out - Racing Talk - Racehorse TALK

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SYNTHETIC TRACKS: Jury Still Out - Racing Talk - Racehorse TALK

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Offline MagiC~*

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O.P. « 2009-Feb-22, 12:08 PM »
Recommend  Message 1 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee  (Original Message) Sent: 9/5/2008 10:47 AM
Del Mar's surface was faster this season, and deaths have decreased, but injuries were of a different nature.
By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
7:58 PM PDT, September 3, 2008
DEL MAR -- - Two years after the state required major thoroughbred racetracks to install synthetic surfaces, the Southern California racing industry is still wrestling with the costs and benefits of the investment.

It was here two summers ago where the allure of horses running at the famed seaside track was spoiled by the fatal breakdowns of 19 animals, clinching a cry for action after the statewide deaths of 240 horses between 2003 and 2005.
Del Mar's new Polytrack installed last year cut down on fatalities, but also led to much slower racing, frustrating horsemen and troubling track executives desperate to please the lifeblood of the sport, handicappers.

Management's solution this summer was to water down the racing surface to create a firmer track, which resulted in faster racing. But the conditions created a new issue: an apparent increase in non-fatal injuries.

Just two weeks into the Del Mar season, which concluded Wednesday, concerned trainers met with track executives to present survey results showing that 69 horses had already suffered season- or career-ending injuries.

Since then, track officials and some owners and trainers say they have reached a tenuous peace regarding the new surface.

Racing and training deaths at Del Mar have been reduced from the 2006 carnage to six in 2007, and eight this season.

Joe Harper, Del Mar's president, also pointed to statistics gathered by the Southern California Equine Foundation showing 389 X-rays of sore or injured horses required this season, compared with 456 in 2005 and 439 in 2006. Some 2,400 horses train or race at Del Mar.

And eight speed records were set this summer.

"This has been a very successful meet, and I can't see this situation going anywhere but getting better," Harper said Wednesday. "There's been a significant reduction of injuries."

Trainer Gary Sherlock said that the consensus was that something needed to be done, but by the end of the meeting, "the track was pretty good."

Still, not everyone is sold on synthetics.

Trainer John Shirreffs, whose horses Zenyatta and Madeo captured combined purses of more than $650,000 by winning the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap and Del Mar Derby, respectively, says synthetics are "too hard" on young horses.

He complains the weather-sensitive tracks feature an unpredictable maintenance schedule that causes headaches for trainers trying to script a race plan.

"I've asked that we put the money we're putting into these surfaces into research that will allow us to do a better job of saving injured horses, but, being a logical person seeing how things are now, you ask yourself, why go against City Hall?" Shirreffs said.

John Sadler, who led Del Mar trainers in starts and money won ($2 million-plus) this summer, said the track's push for more speed resulted in "not more, but different" injuries, with more tenderness being found this year around the feet, hind-leg, back and bottom.

The trainers' concern about introducing so much water to the seven-inch Polytrack mixture of silica sand, recycled rubber, fibers and wax over a blacktop base peaked early in the meet in July, when they met with track executives.

"They made it too hard, there's no give," thoroughbred owner Tom Garrity said this week. "It's like they're running on concrete."

Garrity's 3-year-old filly Tess In Paradise suffered a fractured knee during a morning workout Aug. 9. The independent investment advisor from Oceanside contends Del Mar executives "overreacted" to last year's slow times by exposing horses to unsafe conditions.

Harper counters that trainers and owners have long blamed injuries on track conditions, adding he has ordered Del Mar's veterinarians to scratch horses from races for even "the most minuscule" health concern in pre-race inspections.

Trainer Bob Baffert said his reluctance to embrace synthetic tracks remains rooted in news like that at Saratoga, where no horse has been euthanized in afternoon racing on dirt this summer. "I think synthetics take away the brilliance from a horse," he said.

Baffert, who shifted to Saratoga last summer after a powerful owner relocated his stable there, returned to Del Mar for this year's meet.

"This was sold to us as being better than dirt," Baffert said this week. "If it's not better than dirt, why have it?"

At Santa Anita, meanwhile, the rain drainage woes that canceled 11 dates in January and February forced officials to launch a complete overhaul of its new, $11-million Cushion Track. All of the track material was pulled up and treated with a polymer binder application as a new drainage system was installed.

"We're extremely confident we won't miss a day of racing this year," Santa Anita President Ron Charles said. The track is the site of the two-day Breeders' Cup in late October.

Santa Anita is also working with Cal-OSHA to address a formal complaint by a member of the starting gate crew earlier this year that the track was releasing unhealthful fumes. Testing was performed Wednesday, Charles said, with results expected by Friday.

"We have gone to great lengths to conform to environmental standards, and I believe everything is well within limits," Charles said. "We'll have a meeting with the [starters'] union before the season, and show them the results. We are not going to have issues."

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:09 PM Reply #1 »
Recommend  Message 2 of 51 in Discussion 
From: johnnysixpence Sent: 9/5/2008 5:23 PM
Similar issue a few months back with a number of horse deaths in a short period on the synthetic track at Wolverhampton here in the UK. I think they just attributed it to bad luck in the end. At the time there was talk of boycotts etc.
I see the form is starting to work out on the synthetics in oz. Today, Geelong race 6, no. 1 Cocenta looks to be the first horse to take a real liking to the track. Also helps to have a top jockey that has quickly sussed out the way to ride on synthetics.

Recommend  Message 3 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/5/2008 6:35 PM
Yes, Cocenta won well.
It will be a major concern if synthetics present a "horses for courses" situation.  We should not be surprised if they do - but the proponents dismissed such questions as unwarranted pessimism when raised last year.

Recommend  Message 4 of 51 in Discussion 
From: johnnysixpence Sent: 9/5/2008 10:30 PM
Synthetics have been in use in the UK for years, and it is not uncommon for horses to be maidens on turf yet have numerous wins on the synthetic. Like wet tracks, some horses handle them better than others.

Recommend  Message 5 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/24/2008 10:21 PM
Finally, an article on justracing website that's worth reading.  No crap or bile or hatred or self-serving propaganda...just balanced discussion of facts.
Well done, Dan Costello.

Recommend  Message 6 of 51 in Discussion 
From: muggins1936 Sent: 9/24/2008 11:05 PM
A very interesting article by Dan Costello,he'll be a welcome addition  to the high powered just racing team on this effort.
The statement attributed to Neville Stewart Chairman of the TTC ,highlighted below,imo is belligerent in the extreme.  Attempting to intimidate an unidentified licensee and prevent stake holders from exercising their basic rights in discussing the issue is a serious matter  which I would have thought is well beyond the powers of a provincial race club.No doubt the Trainers'Association would defend the rights of individuals threatened by this man.
"On the day of discussion with the concerned group of industry participants at the Ipswich race meeting, another story was released in the Toowoomba Chronicle and it became obvious why this group of people wanted to voice concerns and questions collectively. The article was written by respected local journalist Glen McCullough and was headlined, “Turf Club ups ante against project opponents”. The story went on to say, Toowoomba Turf Club and Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) officials have upped the ante against outspoken opponents of Clifford Park's imminent Cushion Track conversion they say are undermining the $10 million project. Turf club chairman Neville Stewart said his committee will today cite a licensed trainer to explain their alleged participation in a petition proposing action by licensees against Clifford Park's revamp later this year. Stewart yesterday threatened to come down hard on any attempts to halt the project. "We will not tolerate any mischief making which has the potential to threaten this club's $10 million upgrade," Stewart said. He went on to say "It has come to our attention that a Clifford Park owner/trainer has been creating mischief amongst fellow trainers by trying to organise a meeting designed to derail this critical project. They will be advised by letter tomorrow that they have been cited to appear before the club committee on Saturday to explain their actions. Make no mistake, we have the power and we will act to stop this reckless behaviour. If need be we can take away their Clifford Park training privileges”.

Recommend  Message 7 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameEl_Zoro Sent: 9/24/2008 11:37 PM
This rant sounds like crazy, childish & reckless behaviour in the extreme. 
So what if people have different opinions, better to have them heard in a democratic way & to sort through the issues than to jump in the deep end & get left with egg on your face.
I have seen no proof that Synthetic tracks will be better or worse for horses & injuries. Obviously some tracks around the world have been terrible & some are OK, probably depends on how much care & attention has gone into how they're made.
The Sunshine Coast synthetic track seems OK? Maybe we won't really have a definitive answer on that until a large time period has passed.
Whatever major changes occur there will always be people arguing the pros & cons & that's how it should be. Stuffing up a major development/racetrack could have far reaching effects into the future so you'd want to be 99% sure you're going down the right path.  

Recommend  Message 8 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/24/2008 11:43 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again....
The success of synthetics will be determined by punters - no one else.  All the spin doctors on the planet won't make a punter bet on a synthetic if they don't want to.
As the title to this thread reads:  the jury is still out - and will be for a long time yet.

Recommend  Message 9 of 51 in Discussion 
From: Ascot Sent: 9/25/2008 7:34 AM
Just a couple of musings:
I have seen the Caloundra exhibit up close.  It seems technically perfect and is a high maintenance facility.  You don't just lay one and walk away.  It has to be maintained daily and refreshed regularly as it wears.  The most remarkable feature to me is that it supplies a "rebound" effect to pressure.....if you force your shoe into it the impression made quickly receeds back to the original state.  Unlike grass, sand  or dirt surfaces no divots form. 
Many trainers fear that this characteristic, designed to give horses a "spring" or bounce effect as they stride, is unnatural and some horses adjust but some do not.  The worst case scenario is that it enhances joint wear / damage in horses whose gait is unsuited to it.  Some would argue that this downside applies to any surface, but I discussed this only last Sat with a trainer who knows a bit about the game (having trained 11 Melbourne Cup winners himself) and he is adamant he would never put a horse to a synthetic surface to even train, let alone race, and risk a breakdown.
So I see them as a training option some will enhance and others will repel. 
As for betting and racing on them, I find it totally unpalatable.  That may well be due to the grade of horse presently using them, and after watching the first Cox Plate or Doncaster on one I might reconsider.  However I often find myself unconsciously looking for the lure or or wondering how many laps there are to go.  And the races I see on them are just plain boring.  One could argue the fake cartoon racing they have in Vic TAB's is just as exciting to bet on.  So perhaps we could save a lot of money, bypass synthetic and go straight to horses to breakdown and no maintenance.

Recommend  Message 10 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamegratlog1 Sent: 9/25/2008 8:45 AM
Geelong track, from a punters view gets a big thumbs up from me.
Sunshine Coast from me also gets a thumbs up, but maybe it would be different if I was a trainer.
Toowoomba has to do something. Be honest that present track leaves a lot to be desired.
   Of course I'm taking the I'm alright jack approach.
As long as I have somewhere to punt when I want I'm happy.

Recommend  Message 11 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/25/2008 8:55 AM
You, and many others such as myself, would bet on a meeting held on a creek bed at Cunnamulla.
But that alone wouldn't be enough to sustain it as a source of revenue from which prizemoney must come.

Recommend  Message 12 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamegratlog1 Sent: 9/25/2008 8:59 AM
What else can they do at Toowoomba?

Recommend  Message 13 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/25/2008 9:06 AM
There are plenty who would support a move to a greenfield site that's FLAT and where there's water.  Build a cushion and grass track, and create a modern training complex.
The topography at Twba will present some problems, IMO.  Time will tell whether they can be overcome.
Personally, I prefer a track that is FLAT to one with hills and dales.

Recommend  Message 14 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamecoinswell Sent: 9/25/2008 9:15 AM
It seems remarkable to me the number of horses that appear to dip or stumble at Clifford Park especially up the running.

I am not sure if this is a function of the topography of the track or whether it is properly graded or on some occasions simply ordinary riding.

Generally speaking, the track appears to have a heavy inside bias, certainly in the straight. Sometimes horses look like they are flying down the outside set to swamp the leader but it just doesn't happen. Possibly an optical illusion to some extent but that is only part of it IMHO.

Recommend  Message 15 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameHeathledgerr1 Sent: 9/25/2008 9:35 AM
I like the thorough track at geelong b/c i don't bet on it. Same with sunny coast. AND with the amount of racing i like removal of a days racing, with geelong its like the sunday of years ago when the racing industry gave ev'one a day off . I do tape the meeting but i don't value/respect the form. What are the crowds like at these cushion/thor. tracks..........??

Recommend  Message 16 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/25/2008 10:57 AM
Plenty riding on new surface
by Jay Privman

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Santa Anita officials and trainers based here are hoping the sequel to its synthetic surface era is a lot better than the original.

When the track reopens for racing Wednesday, opening day of the Oak Tree meeting, the sport will be conducted on the new Pro-Ride surface that was installed over the summer. It replaced the dysfunctional Cushion Track surface that failed to drain last winter when it rained during the main Santa Anita meeting, costing the track eight days of racing and millions of dollars in repairs and lost wagers.

Training has been conducted on Pro-Ride for the past three weeks, and the surface has received uniformly positive reviews so far. And though everyone involved is optimistic that the surface will perform properly, everyone is being soberly cautious, because the stakes could not be higher.

The Breeders' Cup will be run at Santa Anita on Oct. 24-25, and if there is any chance of getting understandably skeptical horsemen and their horses - including Curlin - from out of town to show up, it has to work. If it does, the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Classic, which already includes Big Brown, would become the biggest race of the decade. In addition, a successful Oak Tree meeting run on Pro-Ride would likely convince additional trainers to spend the winter here, where the purses are far superior to what will be offered in Florida, New York, Arkansas, or Louisiana.

"I hate to go out on a limb, because we haven't raced on it yet - no one's lost a race on it yet - but I'm very happy with it right now," Ron Charles, Santa Anita's president, said Monday morning. "I'm excited about having a track that will perform well."

Ian Pearse, the founder of Pro-Ride, was the white knight during the darkest days of the winter meeting. In a matter of days last January, he mixed his proprietary material into the Cushion Track surface and got it to drain, salvaging the meet. When the meet ended in April, the decision was made to completely replace the surface. Pro-Ride got the nod. Pearse, who is based in Australia, redid the surface while Del Mar was racing this summer.

"Anyone who was out here for the winter meet saw the catastrophic position we were in," Charles said. "What Ian did was nothing less than miraculous."

If nothing else, the new surface at least looks like dirt. It is a dark brown in color, not the faint yellow of Polytrack, the synthetic surface at Del Mar. Hollywood Park has Cushion Track. Charles said the surface is "87 percent natural dirt," the rest being fibers and the polymer binders that coat the dirt, helping it drain.

"Everything so far I like," trainer Eoin Harty said. "It's a very kind, forgiving surface, with a lot of bounce to it. When a horse puts his foot down, you wait 10 to 15 seconds, and the surface comes back."

Harty said the biggest difference has been the lack of heavy equipment on the track compared to Del Mar.

"They have a break, but only to clean up the manure," Harty said.

According to Charles, Pearse has recommended putting harrows on the track as little as possible. At Del Mar, the track was groomed after almost every race, and by the end of the meet, trainers were complaining the surface was causing foot problems.

"The feet are cold," trainer Leonard Powell said. "And you can't hear them when they train on it in the morning. I've seen the ambulance once in two weeks."

That was Saturday morning, when the filly Tizsweetdreams broke down following a five-furlong drill in 57.60 seconds for trainer John Sadler. She was euthanized.

"It takes a little getting used to, but I haven't had any problems with it," trainer Jim Cassidy said. "I lost a ton of shoes at Del Mar. This has been very consistent. One thing I've noticed is early in the morning, with the dew, it's tight. The sun makes it a little kinder, a little softer."

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:10 PM Reply #2 »
Recommend  Message 17 of 51 in Discussion 
From: governor Sent: 9/25/2008 11:02 AM
if you have high maintenance with a synthetic track, either you have chosen the wrong type of surface or your wasting time and money.

sounds bit like both is happening across the globe and certainly within Australia. I cant believe there isnt a silicon based synthetic product which is good for the horses with zero to low maintenance.

Recommend  Message 18 of 51 in Discussion 
From: Ascot Sent: 9/25/2008 6:42 PM
Some people assume just because you don't have to mow or water it, it should just sit there and be used.   But they have to clean away organic matter after each training session.  If it is left on the facility, the acids can destroy the synthetic fibres.  Topping up worn patches is also necessary. 
Helps if you think of it as being like carpet tiles.  If there is crap on it you need to clean it off, plus from time to time you swap the tiles around.  There is no way to avoid maintenance.

Recommend  Message 19 of 51 in Discussion 
From: muggins1936 Sent: 9/25/2008 8:39 PM
A bit more info on synthetic tracks a three part series on  
will add to our knowledge base. 

Recommend  Message 20 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 9/26/2008 12:51 PM
The blog you pointed us to is very informative and well prepared, IMO.  I just hope he doesn't buy an alarm clock and try selling us sectional times.
I'll try to catch up with the guy next time I'm at the track.

Recommend  Message 21 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 10/4/2008 9:38 PM
For those who are interested and don't see the C-M, here is the item that suggests Toowoomba might end up with both grass and Cushion tracks.

Recommend  Message 22 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 10/5/2008 12:31 PM
According to Bart Sinclair's item in today's S-M, the material for the Twba Cushion is already "on-site".
Sinclair quotes Bob Bentley:
"If the club (TTC) changes its mind I'm happy to cart the material to another location."
Sinclair commented: "Most trainers, not all, are happy for a compromise of a cushion training track."
My memory tells me that the initial support of Qld Government for CTs was for training, not racing.
QRL is understandably concerned at the quality of the existing Twba grass circuit, hence the encouragement for racing on the CT.

Recommend  Message 23 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 10/9/2008 5:30 PM
From QRL:
 October 2008

Toowoomba Turf Club Cushion Track to proceed

Toowoomba Turf Club (Club) chairman Mr Neville Stewart reiterated today that his committee will proceed with the installation of the Cushion Track at Toowoomba on the course proper.

Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) chairman Mr Bob Bentley said the decision is certainly in the best interest of all Toowoomba stakeholders.

“The maintenance of the grass track on the course proper to a satisfactory condition has been an impossible task for a considerable period of time exacerbated by the long running Toowoomba water shortage,” Mr Bentley said.
“In the 2006/07 year Toowoomba lost five full TAB meetings and a further three meetings were abandoned after the conduct of only two races.

“In comparison, only three meetings were lost between Eagle Farm, Doomben, Gold Coast, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast.

“This situation is certainly not economically viable for the industry, let alone the lost income to the many stakeholders who derive their income from race meetings at Clifford Park, which exceeded $500,000, not to mention lost wagering opportunities for the industry.”

QRL will conduct an information session with the Club committee and registered full-time professional trainers at Clifford Park on Monday, October 13 at 1:30pm. A full complement of QRL staff will be in attendance.

“The meeting is intended to give professional stakeholders up-to-date information on construction times and temporary regulations for ongoing training also details surrounding the movement of the Club’s scheduled race meetings during the construction period,” Mr Bentley said.

“The meeting will not revisit the decision taken to install the Cushion Track on the course proper. It is time for all stakeholders to move on and embrace the advantages that this $10million investment will bring to Toowoomba.

“I understand that this project is one of the biggest investments in sporting infrastructure in the history of the City of Toowoomba.

“The Toowoomba Club committee are the beneficial owners who act on behalf of the members of the Club and are empowered under the Racing Act 2002 and the Toowoomba Turf Club constitution to make decisions concerning capital works at Clifford Park.”

Mr Bentley reiterated that the Cushion Track at Toowoomba will definitely proceed as planned.

Recommend Delete    Message 24 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MagiC** Sent: 10/9/2008 6:22 PM
Just wondering how much it would have cost to transport water to Toowoomba ???
10 million is a lot of money, surely they could have carted water for a lot less then that, also how much to keep topping up the cushion track, along with maintaning it ??
Horse drag a lot of the stuff off on the feet and bumpers so it will need plenty of re-filling over time.

Recommend  Message 25 of 51 in Discussion 
From: omnitrader Sent: 10/9/2008 6:55 PM
I spent 3 years riding work and breaking in over in America (also learnt parrelli while there for experiance). The problem i did find with the all weather tracks is where they put the gates to start races you tend to get a base rip up. Would be galloping(breezing in there tearms) and dip at certain points of the track. Also found the ground unstable from halfway around the corner swinging in up to about 50m into the straight. I was always of the opinion that it was caused by that part of the track being where as a rider you are asking horses to up the anti and work harder. Remember they do work there horses alot harder over there when galloping. I have seen horses break legs and damage joints more in my time there than at any track here in australasia. Will never forget a horse breaking both front legs at the 1200 and both breaks where just below the knee. As i say and maybe i dont know anything but the start points will become points of disscusion in a couple of years. Always jump from the same point and you are going to dig up and move the base. Harrows only make the top surface look good. Go outside and get into a starters postion on the lawn then dig deep and start like you are starting a race, do this from the same spot for 1 year and see what your start point is like then...oh make sure you rake it over and top it up with loose dirt. Just an opinion from someone that has ridden on the all weather tracks overseas and the problems that i saw or had to tolerate as a rider. Wet day with a loose and  already damaged surface underneath a horse...well 1+1= ?. Time will tell...

Recommend  Message 26 of 51 in Discussion 
From: governor Sent: 10/10/2008 7:30 AM
If Bart says they are no good, why aren't the authorities listening.

Recommend  Message 27 of 51 in Discussion 
From: ShortHalfHead Sent: 10/10/2008 7:41 AM
A  spiel from the manufacturers made me have a small giggle

Cushion Track has been selected from all of the footing materials available on the world market for the world's most prestigious racetracks in America, Australia, UK and Sweden, not to mention the Royal Equestrian Centers of both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

With over 20 years experience in the manufacture of riding surfaces and with over 8000 projects worldwide, we are equipped to meet the demands of any project large or small.


Wonder if the author was from Toowoomba or the Sunshine Coast ?


Recommend  Message 28 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 10/12/2008 12:32 PM
By Bart Sinclair in today's Sunday-Mail:

Toowoomba trainers maintain the rage

THE Toowoomba trainers group opposing the introduction of the cushion track on the course proper is not letting go.

They are also incensed at being described by Queensland Racing Limited chairman Bob Bentley as a "rag tag group".

We all have been guilty of using inappropriate words in the heat of the moment when a debate turns nasty, as this cushion track issue now has.

When Jim Atkins, probably the most respected horse trainer in Australia, is one of the leading figures in your group, "rag tag" is a poor choice of words.

Bentley last weekend urged the Toowoomba Turf Club to at least give the industry stakeholders a hearing.

What happened between Saturday and Thursday, when a press release was issued by QRL stating in inflammatory tones the cushion track would proceed regardless of what anyone now said?

Recommend  Message 29 of 51 in Discussion 
From: Ascot Sent: 10/12/2008 12:59 PM
JJ Atkins also not in support. 
Problem really is that there is no empirical evidence for or against.  So neither side can be proven wrong, and it is all about opinion.  One could argue that JJ having been a trainer most of his 90+ years, many of them at premiership level, and Bart a living legend with 11 Melbourne Cups under the belt know a tad more about the horses than those who have never put a saddle on one. 

Recommend  Message 30 of 51 in Discussion 
From: muggins1936 Sent: 10/12/2008 7:25 PM
Whatever happened to the  Trainers' deputation to the Racing Minister which was reported a week or so ago.Cut off at the pass, sidewinders in cowboy talk  

Recommend  Message 31 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamesilentmanners Sent: 10/12/2008 8:05 PM
rumour has it that there looks as if there is a syn track heading to south australia

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:11 PM Reply #3 »
Recommend  Message 32 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 11/22/2008 6:57 PM
As an armchair observer, I thought yesterday's Cushion surface at SC seemed to race differently to other occasions.  There were some totally inglorious performances by well-fancied runners.  Connections - including a high-profile Cushion proponent - were left pondering.
The week of wet weather would have provided a new challenge to track maintenance staff.  Perhaps the pre-race preparation was varied.
Let's hope things get sorted out or punters will be leaving the building.
The rumblings continue at Toowoomba where QRL/TTC are keen to replace the existing grass track with a Cushion.  There's a pile of the cushion fibre waiting to be spread - as the rain tumbles down.

Recommend  Message 33 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamefrontline1964 Sent: 11/22/2008 7:13 PM

Track safety fears

Article from: Herald Sun


Matt Stewart

November 19, 2008 12:00am

POTENTIAL risks to horse and jockey safety on synthetic racing surfaces are being investigated after they were criticised at the Asian Racing Conference.

Racing Victoria Ltd is also investigating why seven horses have suffered fatal injuries on the Geelong ThoroughTrack since it opened in August 2007.

By comparison, in 2007 seven horses died in jumps races in Victoria and five this season, figures that sparked a review into the sport.

An identical track to the Geelong all-weather is to be built at Cranbourne, with work to start in February.

Cranbourne will go ahead only if RVL is convinced the synthetic tracks are safe for horse and rider. Cranbourne's ThoroughTrack is to be used for training and as a racetrack.

Several synthetic training surfaces have been built in Australia in the past few years, in keeping with international trends, while Canberra, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast and Geelong have introduced all-weather racetracks.

Cranbourne trainers have signed a petition demanding RVL rethink its decision to rip up the grass and replace it with a synthetic surface.

RVL chief vet Paul O'Callaghan has been gathering data on the Geelong track and has commissioned a Melbourne University report into the cause of injury to each of the seven horses put down.

"It's of concern enough to us that we feel it's necessary to investigate," O'Callaghan said.

"The raw figures are that there have been seven fatalities. We have to work out why these fatalities occurred.

"It seems from our initial investigations that older horses are breaking down on the track more often than younger ones."

Top Cranbourne trainer Michael Kent said horses had a greater chance of sustaining tendon injuries on synthetic tracks. Some trainers refuse to race on it but some endorse it strongly.

RVL operations manager Leigh Jordon insisted RVL was still on track to start work at Cranbourne but said it had a duty to investigate concerns about all-weather surfaces.

He said the tone of some speakers at the Asian Racing Conference in Japan last week was of caution about them.

"Generally the feedback to synthetic tracks has been very good," Jordon said.

"Our feedback is that for everyone who is cautious, there are a lot more who fully endorse them.

"But we are also aware that a few issues were raised at the Asian Racing Conference regarding horse and jockey welfare. We need to look into it."

Jordon said investigations could prove synthetic was less severe on horses than other surfaces.

"We owe it to the industry to find out," he said.

Recommend Delete    Message 34 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MagiC** Sent: 11/22/2008 10:13 PM
Another couple broke down at the Cushion track yesterday .... juries out to the reason behind it though.
But after talking to a few people the conditions where very simular to the day they lost two horses on the cushion in the one race with identical injuries in an open 2000m race a few months ago.
Other comments from jockeys and track work riders are you don't want to fall off on it as it is like hitting concrete ......

Recommend  Message 35 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 11/23/2008 11:50 AM
From today's The Sunday-Mail:
Sunshine Coast track 'disgrace', says Bob Bentley

By Bart Sinclair

November 22, 2008 11:00pm

BOB Bentley has conceded the state of the cushion track for the Sunshine Coast meeting on Friday was "a disgrace".

But Bentley, the Queensland Racing Limited chairman who has put his head on the block to select and fully support the cushion track synthetic surface, is adamant the track should not be blamed.

"It's all about maintenance and preparation," Bentley said.

"There is no doubt there was a stuff-up. The track was too soft. The hardness of the surface can easily be manipulated and in this case it wasn't carried out properly.

"We had the manufacturer back there this morning and there wasn't the slightest problem.

"The way the track raced was an embarrassment. But we can and will get it right."

Bentley is to be commended for confronting the problem and making a public apology.

Clearly there is a need to present consistent tracks with the many forms of synthetic surfaces now available around the world. Heat is a big issue with any wax-based engineered track.

Punters won't accept different tracks each time.

Recommend  Message 36 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 11/23/2008 9:47 PM
Things aren't cushy in LA, either.

Cushion Track Countersues Santa Anita

By Ryan Conley
Updated: Saturday, November 22, 2008 8:50 PM
Posted: Friday, November 21, 2008 4:26 PM
Cushion Track and related defendants have filed a counterclaim against the Los Angeles Turf Club and its general counsel in the lawsuit over the troubled former synthetic surface at Santa Anita Park, asking a California federal court to award it at least $1.3 million in damages.

The defendants, which also includes a pair of affiliate Equestrian Surfaces companies, claim in a Nov. 17 filing Los Angeles Turf Club failed to pay a balance of $533,293 on the $5.225 million contract for the installation of the surface, as well as $300,000 in non-contract fees for “remedial efforts” to repair drainage problems that plagued the early part of the 2007-2008 Santa Anita meet.

“Without justification or excuse, LATC breached the contract between the parties by failing to perform its obligation to pay Cushion Track the full purchase price … of the Cushion Track material,” the counter-claim said.

The counterclaim additionally seeks at least $500,000 in damages for the alleged seizure by Los Angeles Turf Club general counsel Frank DeMarco of certain equipment owned by Cushion Track, claiming the attorney “forbade” Cushion Track from removing or attempting to remove any of the machinery.

Recommend  Message 37 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamefatprawn Sent: 11/24/2008 11:40 AM
I can honestly say I have NEVER had a bet on a Cushion Track and I have no intention of wasting my preciouos dollars on such a rubbish surface like Caloundra.  Most people I talk to have the same opinion of it.
We can only prey that the industry stands up to bentley and his team of "know-alls" and knocks the Toowoomba and Gold Coast plan on the head FOREVER.
The mail from Toowmba is than some leading trainers will be meeting with Government again this week.  What has happened there is a disgrace and bentley must be brought to account along with his mate Stewart who think they are the only people who know anything and refused to listen to key people who put on racing for us to enjoy.
Q.R.L. have said they will spend $12 million on a new Cushion at Deagon but you can bet your bottom dollar the trainers in that place wont "roll-ver" as easily as they did at Caloundra.  Some of those Caloundra trainers are now screaming about the Cushion Track but are not game to record their views because of their "loyalty" to bentley who hands out all the dollars.  The whole deal with Q.R.L. owning a racetrack is a disgrace, I.M.O.  We should always remember bentley is also on the T.A.B. Board but that is not a problem - according to bob.

Recommend  Message 38 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 11/24/2008 1:49 PM
Comment from ARC by Craig Young in SMH:

The other interesting issue out of the conference amounted to synthetic tracks - the new feel-good yarn although it might not be as good as most claim.

"There is a school of thought in regard to synthetic tracks, they are far less forgiving if a jockey or work rider takes a heavy fall," Murrihy said. "On turf, riders are more likely to break the fall by skidding along where as they come to a fairly abrupt halt on a synthetic track."

Recommend  Message 39 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamecoinswell Sent: 11/24/2008 4:56 PM
Some good commentary from Graham Potter on his website re this issue.

The more I read from this guy the more he impresses me.

Recommend  Message 40 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 11/24/2008 8:08 PM
Yes, coins.  It's always worth a read. 
For those who haven't yet bookmarked it, here's the link:
Had a chat with Graham at the weekend, and I don't think it's any secret that he plans to set things up in a bigger and better format in the months to come.
We certainly need a Brisbane Racing website with some credibility - particularly since TNHRCF will be closing soon.

Recommend  Message 41 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/8/2008 10:02 PM
From The Chronicle:
Trainers seek legal advice on Turf Club membership
by Jennifer Huxley
2 December 2008

A GROUP of Toowoomba trainers is seeking legal advice over a recent mass knock-back of membership applications to the Toowoomba Turf Club.

The group recently filed 27 applications to the TTC, all of which were declined.

Turf Club chairman Neville Stewart said yesterday the reason for the knock backs was the applications were made on “obsolete” forms and new forms had been issued to each applicant.

This is despite Stewart stating in a letter issued to members last week that memberships had been capped due to fire and safety regulations.

In that letter, however, Stewart wrote “I will not stand idly by and allow a group with vested interests to attempt to 'stack' membership numbers in their favour with a view to imposing their will on the members of the Toowoomba Turf Club, who take a much broader view in the overall interests of the club”.

Yesterday, he appeared to have softened his view.

“Membership of a club is not about just one issue or retribution, it's to take part in a whole range of issues,” Stewart said.

“That's my opinion and I believe it is closely followed by the rest of the committee, but I will sit back and watch and see what happens.”

Downs and South West Owners and Trainers Association (DSWOTA) interim chairman John Dann confirmed his group had sought legal advice over the capping of membership numbers.

“At the end of the day I don't think he (Stewart) can cap membership. I don't think it's in the constitution of the incorporation that they can cap it,” Dann said.

“We're still deciding the bona fides of the situation at the moment.”

Meanwhile, DSWOTA met with Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser and Member for Toowoomba North Kerry Shine last week to discuss the contentious Cushion Track at Clifford Park.

“We asked that the Electoral Commission run an independent ballot to see what percentage of people are in favour of the Cushion Track as a number one or number two track,” Dann said.

Recommend  Message 42 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/9/2008 10:06 PM
Bob Bentley informed 4TAB listeners yesterday that the Twba Cushion will be put down from early February, with Sat night racing transferred to Caloundra.
Sat night racing returns to Twba in July.
There's a chance SC will race Sunday twilights.

Recommend Delete    Message 43 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MagiC** Sent: 12/9/2008 10:29 PM
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/9/2008 10:06 PM
Sat night racing transferred to Caloundra.

Will be a long day at the betting meeting for me then, the wife won't know what hit her .... hopefully I will still have money left by the time they start 

Recommend  Message 44 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/10/2008 1:51 PM
Cushion Track people say "don't blame us".

Cushion Track Blames Others for SA Woes

By Ryan Conley
Updated: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 4:35 PM
Posted: Monday, December 8, 2008 2:18 PM
Cushion Track ended speculation it would add third-party defendants to its case with the Los Angeles Turf Club, charging several contracted companies with fault in the development of the former troubled synthetic surface at Santa Anita Park.

Six Southern California companies have been added as cross-defendants to the federal lawsuit originally
filed by LATC in May, which seeks at least $8.4 million in damages from Cushion Track and affiliated defendants. LATC, which operates Santa Anita as a subsidiary of Magna Entertainment Corp., claims faulty installation and maintenance of the surface by Cushion Track resulted in lost training and racing days, as well as repair costs.

While again disputing the claims made by LATC in its complaint, Cushion Track casts any judged blame on the new defendants, which include an engineering company, a sand materials supplier, and four asphalt products suppliers.

 “If (the Cushion Track defendants) are held liable and responsible to LATC for damages as alleged in LATC's complaint, it will be due to third-party defendants’ conduct,” said a court document filed Dec. 2 in U.S. District Court Central District of California. “ … Third party defendants, are jointly, and severally liable to LATC for any and all of the damages suffered by LATC.”

Cushion Track, which has also
filed a cross-claim against LATC for certain damages, alleges, in part, that despite its objections and/or apprehensions:

* Sand used to blend with the synthetic material came from California, and not from the United Kingdom, which the company said was its “usual practice,” and that the sand had too much silt and clay;

* The company was prevented from a timely testing of asphalt materials, claiming it was given samples just four hours before the base was installed;

* The asphalt base was then installed, despite the company's "expressed" concern with its ability to properly drain;

* The synthetic material was installed just a few hours after the base was rolled out, while the asphalt was still hot.

“(The third-party defendants) failed to properly manufacture the construction materials they provided ... and each of them negligently supplied the construction materials so as to necessitate various defects in the construction materials,” the complaint said.

Officials with Koch-Armstrong General Engineering, which the complaint alleged was hired by LATC to serve as general contractor of the project, did not immediately return a call seeking reaction to the lawsuit. An official with P.W. Gillibrand Co., which allegedly supplied the sand, said the company had not received a copy of the complaint, and declined to comment.

Cushion Track previously tried to have the LATC lawsuit dismissed, a request that was denied by a federal judge. The company, which is based in Ocala, Fla., indicated in September it would possible add other defendants to the lawsuit.

Recommend  Message 45 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/12/2008 12:35 PM
WW announced on Sky/4TAB that there'd be some "redressing" of the SC track during today's meeting.
Will be done after Race 3, and maybe later in the day as well.
The entire track will be "harrowed" for a width of 8 M, except in the straight where it will be redressed to 16 M.

Recommend  Message 46 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/14/2008 9:14 AM
From today's The Sunday-Mail
by Bart Sinclair

MORE from the intriguing world of Toowoomba. The debate over the installation of a cushion track rages unabated and the Downs and South-West Trainers and Owners Association will hold another meeting tomorrow to consider their next move.

This body, which is fighting the cushion track on the course proper plan, is furious with the State Government.

"We approached the Racing Minister (Andrew Fraser) and the local member Kerry Shine and didn't get the courtesy of a reply," the trainers' spokesman Gary Wells said.

"We feel these two gentlemen have abrogated their duty to fair play in this state. They have deserted their post."

A spokesman for Mr Fraser said the Toowoomba issue was "still on the radar" but for the moment the installation of a cushion track on the main circuit was a matter for Queensland Racing and the Toowoomba Turf Club.

Wells countered: "We are not satisfied with the bona fides of the vote of the members of the turf club. We want another vote properly organised."

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:13 PM Reply #4 »
Recommend  Message 47 of 51 in Discussion 
From: muggins1936 Sent: 12/14/2008 9:55 AM

"We approached the Racing Minister (Andrew Fraser) and the local member Kerry Shine and didn't get the courtesy of a reply," the trainers' spokesman Gary Wells said."

It's a very poor show when the locals can't get to see their MP who just happens to be Minister for Justice and Attorney General,and someone who you would think would have a good grasp of the fair go principle, which he's not displaying on this issue and a desire to see the right outcome and  deliver justice to all  Any pro active pollie,which Kerry obviously isn't, would have taken notice of this issue well before  it reached this stage .A big fat ZERO to both of them, Fraser and Shine, neither are shining too brightly imo .

Recommend  Message 48 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameAntitab Sent: 12/14/2008 10:08 AM
Fraser has no interest in racing and seems to treat the portfolio as an annnoying attention diverter to his main job.
For a bloke that has desires to be Premier and Prime Minister he is spectaculalry unimpressive.

Recommend  Message 49 of 51 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknamesilentmanners Sent: 12/20/2008 9:31 AM

THE $13 million redevelopment of the Gawler racecourse and installation of a new synthetic track has been given the go ahead.

For detailed plans of the redevelopment, click here

For an artist's impression of the new track, click here

Work on a new Pro-ride all-weather track and inner sand training track is expected to start in early April, running in alignment with the construction of a new multi-purpose function centre.

The project is being developed in conjunction with the Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Racing SA; the State Government providing a $6 million grant towards the total cost of the redesigned racecourse.

Along with the government's monetary input, the development will be funded from the sale of surplus land at the sourthern end of the racecourse.

The new Pro-ride track, the same surface as used at the Santa Anita racecourse in Los Angeles, will have a width of 18m and circumference of 1840m.

The raised new multi-purpose function centre, with a floor area of 1370 square metres, will be used as a raceday facility; also doubling as a community centre which can accommodate up to 500 people.

Club chairman John McKinnon said the all-weather track offered many benefits: "There is virtually no chance of losing a meeting through weather, the upkeep is greatly reduced compared to grass and it does not require watering.

"Some may see it as a gamble for the industry but the other advantage of the Pro-ride track is that it can be available at a minute's notice if events might need to be transfered from other venues because of bad weather."

He added that one of the major benefits in the redevelopment is that the track will have an improved camber and the main straight to the winning post would be extended from 150m to 300m.

Present infrastructure including a grandstand are set to be demolished to accommodate the new facilities, which also include new stewards and jockeys rooms.

Over 300 car parks will be created in the development, 130 of those sealed.

"This is a fantastic project, not only for Gawler but also for the SA thoroughbred industry as a whole," TRSA chairman Philip Bentley said.

The new track is scheduled to take six months to complete, while the overall redevelopment is expected to be ready for use in February 2010.

"We think there will be minimal disruption to local trainers," McKinnon said. "There will be a dirt track inside the course for use and Lindsay Park have offered its track for fast work. The other option is to float horses to Morphettville while the development is in progress."

Because of the installation of the new track, Gawler Cup day in April has been pushed forward to February 18, while TRSA will need to find new venues for eight meetings until the redevelopment is completed.

Recommend  Message 50 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/20/2008 7:25 PM
The worst of 2008 by Bill Finley
WORST RACING SURFACE: There's never been anything like Santa Anita's Cushion Track, the supposedly waterproof surface that couldn't get rid of any water. The thing was such a mess that Santa Anita had to cancel 11 days of racing and when they could actually run on the track it was a disaster. Who will ever forget Sunshine Millions Day when Bob Black Jack, not exactly Hall of Fame material, ran six furlongs in 1:06 2/5 on the fastest racing surface in history.

Recommend  Message 51 of 51 in Discussion 
From: dubbledee Sent: 12/21/2008 7:43 AM
From Caboolture Shire Herald:
Horan promises to restore meets

SHADOW Racing Minister Michael Horan has vowed to restore race meets at Kilcoy if the LNP wins the next state election.

Mr Horan declared his party’s position in State Parliament just days after Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) announced it would strip Kilcoy Race Club, and neighbouring Esk Jockey Club, of three meets each from July 1, 2009.

The member for Toowoomba South said Country Racing had been ``hammered’’ by the Bligh Government, and an elected LNP government would return race meets to Kilcoy and Esk without detriment to other country clubs.

The future of Kilcoy Race Club is on tenterhooks after QRL announced it would strip the now ``non-strategic’’ club of the meets leaving it with just two annually and take its $3000 administration support.

QRL has instead made tracks at Bundaberg, Gympie, Nanango, Beaudesert and Gatton strategic non-TAB venues. They will enjoy the lion’s share of QRL’s $13.1 million annual country racing funding package for the next three years.

Kilcoy, one of the most popular tracks for trainers, jockeys and punters on the South-East Queensland country circuit, has now lost nine race meets in six years.
Somerset Regional Council CEO Bob Bain said he believed meets had been ``stolen’’ from Kilcoy and Esk to help fund the new $6 million synthetic track at Corbould Park, Caloundra.

QRL and the State Government footed the bill for the synthetic track which was launched earlier this year despite fears of drainage problems seen at other cushion tracks around the world and are now set to install a similar track at Toowoomba.

``These meets have been stolen from Kilcoy and Esk to prop up Queensland Racing’s investment in the cushion track at Caloundra,’’ Mr Bain said.

``They’ve redirected country meetings to the Sunshine Coast, which has never been a country racing venue.’’

Kilcoy Race Club officials, meanwhile, have promised to fight QRL’s decision with a series of upcoming public and political announcements.

Offline Max Manewer

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:17 PM Reply #5 »
Luke Shaw is not on this jury, I hope ?  :chin:

Offline Authorized

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:20 PM Reply #6 »
The Americans are probably not real impressed with what happened at Santa Anita last October, but i would of thought the results there would tell racing authorities in this country what artificial surface to go after.

Offline Max Manewer

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« 2009-Feb-22, 12:28 PM Reply #7 »
The lady of the house, upon hearing they're racing again today on the cush............

" Don't they know when to stop racing there ?"


Offline jayjones1

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« 2009-Feb-22, 02:03 PM Reply #8 »
thats the truth hehe

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Mar-11, 09:28 AM Reply #9 »
From another thread, posted by Stan Still:

A decision by Racing Victoria this week has shown yet once again that Bogon Bob and his pair of dimwits, Tony the Hammer and Bill the Innocent, who effectively control the destiny of 30,000 Queenslanders participating in the racing industry, have not got a clue about advancing this once great State sport.

Here is release from RVL re synthetic tracks : New Vic Synthetic Tracks "On Hold For 2 Years"

Installation of synthetic racetracks "is on hold for at least 2 years as Racing Victoria reassesses the impact on horse & jockey," reported Melbourne's The Herald-Sun. RV's board "dropped anchor on installing an artificial track at the Cranbourne training centre after concerns raised by a report it commissioned into horse & jockey welfare on synthetic tracks" & RV chief executive Rob Hines said "although the findings were not conclusive, they did suggest there was a higher rate of injury on synthetic tracks, not only in Australia, but worldwide". Hines noted one of the issues the report raised was the "quality of maintenance" on the track" & said: "As a board we took note of all that & decided it was not appropriate to invest at this time in new synthetic tracks for racing. We are going to do some remedial work on the Geelong ThoroughTrack (drainage) & RV will have an active role in that & we will then re-evaluate the performance of that track. We will keep data on injuries, breakdowns, with a view, we hope, concluding that with the right maintenance & structure on the track, it can be made safe for racing." Hines said if that happened, RV would install a synthetic track at Cranbourne. what do these three stooges do here in Queensland, scrap the once famous Clifford Park turf for a track openly declared unsafe, expensive to build and maintain and openly discarded by punters. and at the same destroy the historic camaraderie which existed within the TTC. Its now reduced to a shambles of a club evenly split in two. I am sure half of TTC members would be reading with glee this RVL release.

........How much longer, hopefully by March 21, does Queensland racing industry participants have to put up with this Hitleristic bogon who thinks he is doing a good job. My backside, which State has the lowest betting turnover on its own events pro rata to population ? which State has the lowest betting turnover on interstate events ?? what State racing body employs 70 year old exes to govern racing and help stewards ?? which state racing authority never employs anyone with a successful background in racing administration from another jurisdiction ?? which state racing authority promotes from within so that Bogon Bob can always get his way ? Queensland is the laughing stock of Australian racing and not because of fine cotton, the upcoming QTIS sale will show breeders that racehorse ownership in this State is dead and buried, who needs a global recession when we've got Bogon Bob at the helm.

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Mar-24, 11:00 AM Reply #10 »
From NY Daily News:

The Day at the Races
BY Jerry Bossert

Sunday, March 22nd 2009, 6:25 PM

Gotham winner I Want Revenge tuned up for the April 4 Wood Memorial by working a bullet five furlongs in :58.20 yesterday at Hollywood Park under jockey Joe Talamo.

"We put another horse out in front of him to keep him focused," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "He did it breezing."

Mullins said the 3-year-old would work again on Sunday before shipping to Aqueduct on April 1.

I Want Revenge entered the Gotham just a maiden winner from six starts, but exploded with a huge 8-1/2-length victory when racing over the dirt for the first time in his career.

Mullins is based at Hollywood Park, which races over the Cushion Track.

"I thought our worries were over when we first got that track," he said. "But then it just kind of broke down and they've done their best to keep it together. If they replaced the dirt track every three of four years with the best stuff available we wouldn't be in the boat we're in."

Besides the Cushion Track, I Want Revenge has raced over the synthetic Polytrack at Del Mar and the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.

"The biggest issue with synthetics is that they can't take all the training and racing we give them and still do what they're supposed to do," Mullins said. "The wear and tear breaks them down."

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Apr-29, 09:28 AM Reply #11 »
From Taiwan News:

Add synthetic to Ky Derby handicappers' challenge
Associated Press
2009-04-29 05:35 AM

Trying to predict how 20 unpredictable 3-year-old colts will fare in the Kentucky Derby is tough enough. Throw in the fact that some will be racing on dirt for the first time while others are coming off synthetic surfaces makes it a handicapping nightmare.

"I'm just glad I'm not a gambler," said trainer Jeff Mullins, who will saddle I Want Revenge on Saturday. "I had a hard time when it was just conventional dirt."

Questions abound every spring about the newest crop of 3-year-olds. Can they handle running 1 1/4 miles (2,000 meters)? How will they fare in the calvary charge to the first turn? Will they contend with what's likely to be the largest and most talented field they'll ever run against?

The introduction of synthetic tracks in California and at Keeneland in Lexington three years ago turned handicapping the Kentucky Derby into an even bigger guessing game. This year's group of contenders prepared on a variety of surfaces, and even in California, the composition of synthetic tracks at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park varies.

Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia will set the Derby morning line at Wednesday's post position draw, giving bettors yet another opinion in a sport that thrives on debate.

Just a few years ago, handicappers and fans had their hands full comparing pedigrees and past performances of horses who came to the Derby after preparing at tracks from coast to coast.

"Now you throw synthetics into it, it's a mishmash," said David Lanzman, co-owner of I Want Revenge. "I know a lot of handicappers that try to throw out the form completely and they just handicap over what they see here the week or 10 days coming in. What I've seen from my horse, I'm willing to do that."

I Want Revenge won only one of six races on synthetic surfaces in California. Then Lanzman and Mullins sent the colt to New York's Aqueduct, where he won the Gotham Stakes by 8 1/2 lengths and rallied to win the Wood Memorial after a terrible start. Both of those races were on dirt.

The surface switch seemingly changed the colt's running style.

"On synthetic, he holds his head really low and his knees come real high, but on dirt he holds his head straight out and throws his feet straight out and is more fluid," Mullins said.

Another California horse, Pioneerof the Nile, will be racing on dirt for the first time. His first two career races were on the turf, then he switched to synthetics, and has won four of six on the artificial stuff, including four consecutive victories since going to U.S. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's barn late last year.

"They're all different, there's not one synthetic that's the same," Baffert said. "Horses can slip a little bit, they can stick. Some horses like it, some horses don't like it."

Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile beat I Want Revenge twice on synthetic.

"I'll be scared of him until we at least beat him once," Lanzman said, "but we've done it (run on dirt) and he hasn't. That's our advantage over him."

Also trying dirt for the first time will be Santa Anita Derby runner-up Chocolate Candy and third-place Mr. Hot Stuff. Last year's dirt rookies in the Derby finished no better than sixth.

"If Pioneerof the Nile can do what I Want Revenge did (on dirt), then it's a foregone conclusion that he's the horse to beat," said trainer Nick Zito, who doesn't have a Derby starter this year.

Just how well horses making the transition from synthetic adjust to having dirt kicked back in their faces is another question. During training, horses are timed running alone or with one other horse beside them, so kickback is not an issue.

Baffert is among those who believe conventional dirt will always be the best racing surface. He thinks the artificial mixture of fiber, rubber and sand is better suited for training.

"I don't think they've got the right one yet," Baffert said, referring to synthetic surfaces marketed under such names as Polytrack, Cushion Track and Pro-Ride.

Mullins agreed, saying, "I hope there's not very much future in it."

Both trainers are based in California, so they've been forced to adapt to synthetic, which was introduced and pitched as being safer for riders and animals and easier to maintain.

"The jury is still out," Zito said. "You need more data. Some groups have now said you see all these injuries in the hind (legs) and the soft tissue. There's plenty of evidence in that. Conventional dirt is good for horses."

Blue Grass winner General Quarters is one of the handful of Derby contenders who's won on dirt and synthetic.

Hold Me Back, runner-up in the Blue Grass, earned his three career victories on synthetic. The only time he finished out of the money _ beaten by 14 lengths _ came on dirt at Aqueduct.

"We're not about to say our horse can't run on the dirt just off one race," trainer Bill Mott said. "We're going to give him the chance on Saturday and then we'll see

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-May-01, 01:06 PM Reply #12 »
Handy filly Papal Joy goes around at Doomben today.

According to Bill Saunders, trainer Brian Wakefield believes she was was injured during her recent run on the Cushion Track:

The daughter of My Joy was injured at her last appearance when runner-up to River Perfume in a 1400-metre Class Two on the cushion track at Caloundra on March 22.

"She got a soft tissue injury in a front leg from her last run on the cushion track," Wakefield said.

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-May-01, 01:13 PM Reply #13 »
The daughter of My Joy was injured at her last appearance when runner-up to River Perfume in a 1400-metre Class Two on the cushion track at Caloundra on March 22.

"She got a soft tissue injury in a front leg from her last run on the cushion track," Wakefield said.

I been saying this from day one, and nobody listened  :rolleyes:


Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-May-01, 01:14 PM Reply #14 »
Your definition of "nobody", MagiC?

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-May-01, 01:17 PM Reply #15 »
Your definition of "nobody", MagiC?

QR :)

had a smiley face to indicate a little tongue in cheek, maybe the wrong smiley was invoked  ;)

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-May-01, 01:45 PM Reply #16 »
You probably meant "acted". :unsu

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-May-01, 08:28 PM Reply #17 »

Even with the sort of "anecdotes" from Brian Wakefield - and the numerous others you refer to - I remain unconvinced either way on whether the Cushion does or does not contribute to more injuries (and that's using the term loosely).

I'm not doubting that BW believes the Cushion contributed to PJ's problem.  You'd know better than me: do not "soft tissue injuries" occur on grass training tracks?

To prove an hypothesis such as this would require a lengthy study conducted by persons with the necessary statistical skills.

All we have to date is observational data.  Is it biased?  Is the population of horses in which we're recording injury (on the Cushion track) identical in all respects to the population which (we believe) are not incurring injury on the grass or dirt track, etc.  Unless it is, we must be very cautious in drawing conclusions.

Let's say that the horses who race and train at SC are generally older, or with a higher prevalence of past injury, than those who race and train at EF, for example.  If that is the case, might we not expect a greater incidence of injury?

I'm not about debunking your theory, but I wanna stress that to obtain a robust conclusion that would stand statistical scrutiny is a major exercise - which no one at present has the resources (and/or know-how) to conduct.

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-May-02, 07:43 AM Reply #18 »
I totally agree with you DD,

But, my point has always been against the stance QR, and certain other parts of the industry have taken toward the Cushion.

We where told horses where not going to break down on this surface and it was going to increase the racing life of all horses, It is the Cushion, and it was like galloping on cotton wool we where told.

This is all a load of Bullshit, and QR need to admit, that at worse it is no different to any other surface for protecting the welfare of horses, instead of telling lies saying it will prolong their racing careers.

I noticed from the very beginning it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but was ridiculed for speaking out.

Another 2 horses were put down on the Cushion again last weekend, no racing careers prolonged there  :mad:

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-May-18, 10:26 AM Reply #19 »
Pro-Ride Racing Australia has been called in to fix up Geelong's synthetic track.

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Jun-26, 11:34 AM Reply #20 »
Anyone wanting another dose of synthetic track racing can bet on the Acton at Canberra today. :chin:

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Jul-31, 09:49 AM Reply #21 »
Disturbing news from Del Mar.

From, originally from

Six Catastrophic Injuries Reported at Del Mar
by: Tracy Gantz

Six horses have died from catastrophic injuries at Del Mar during a 10-day span that includes the first week of racing. Three occurred during morning training on Polytrack, two happened during races on Polytrack, and one was in a turf race.

The fatalities came from six different barns. Mad for Plaid, a maiden claimer trained by Peter Miller, fractured her left front sesamoids during training July 19, three days before the meet began. Mi Rey, from the Doug O'Neill barn, suffered a compound fracture of his right front fetlock when he went down in a $10,000 claiming race on opening day. Jockey Rafael Bejarano suffered facial fractures when struck by another horse.

Peanut Ridge, a 2-year-old trained by Chris Hartman, worked a half-mile July 23 on Polytrack in :48.80. The colt, who finished seventh at Lone Star June 12 in his only start for trainer John Tally, injured his right front leg during the work. He walked back to his barn, but had to be euthanized the following day.

I Want My Money, trained by Jeff Mullins, broke down in the left front nearing the wire of a starter allowance race July 24. Trainer Mike Mitchell lost Insider when the gelding suffered a compound fracture of his left rear in a starter allowance race on the turf July 26. The sixth incident occurred when $25,000 claimer Maggie and Hopie, trained by Jack Carava, broke her left front leg during a work on the main track July 28.

Maggie and Hopie threw exercise rider Jorge Sota. Carava said Sota suffered two broken ribs and a broken vertebra and remains in the hospital. He did not have to undergo surgery, and Carava said the rider is expected to fully recover.

"We came down about a week before the meet started, and everything was fine," said Carava. "I worked about 17 horses before the meet, and it was good. Since the races started, horses haven't been coming back as good."

Rick Arthur, DVM, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, said while there are not yet studies to scientifically prove it, injuries often cluster at the beginning of a meet because of a change in racetrack surface. Southern California has three different synthetic main tracks. Del Mar has Polytrack, Santa Anita has Pro-Ride, and Hollywood Park (whose meet closed July 19) has Cushion Track. The Cushion Track this year has been playing more like a traditional dirt surface.

"I hate to be anthropomorphic, but think about if you were jogging on the side of the road and then you started jogging on the sand or the beach," Arthur said. "Apparently, you are putting different stresses on different structures when you change surfaces."

Arthur noted that in 2006, the last year Del Mar had a dirt surface, during the first week of the meet there were five racing fatalities on the main track, one on the turf during a race, and one on the turf during training.

"There were three fatalities on the main track for the entire rest of the meet and one on the turf," Arthur said. "The rest during that time were training fatalities."

Altogether, Del Mar had 18 fatalities during the 2006 meet, one of the factors that led to the CHRB mandate that major California tracks install synthetic surfaces.

"In the 1980s, the HBPA (Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association) funded a survey that had good data," said Arthur. "It showed that the first two weeks of meets were when most fatalities occurred. That was back when the Southern California dirt tracks were very different from each other. The way I interpret the data, horses had to adjust to the new track. That was never confirmed. It is simply a hypothesis."

Del Mar also historically has a high number of horses working on its track daily during the meeting because the off-site stabling is located 100 miles north at either Santa Anita or Hollywood. Over the opening weekend of July 25-26, 195 horses worked on the main track on Saturday and 204 worked over the surface on Sunday.

Craig Fravel, Del Mar's executive vice president, said Del Mar re-graded its surface since last year. He said they tested the track before the meet to ensure that the Polytrack ingredients, such as the wax, were the same as the previous year.

"We are closely approximating the maintenance procedures we had last year," Fravel said. "We think the track is in fine shape."

This is the third season that Del Mar is racing over Polytrack. In the first year, 2007, some horsemen criticized the surface for being inconsistent from morning to afternoon and suggested that the track needed more water. Times were also slow. The fatality rate during the meet was eight on the main track--two in races and six during training.

For 2008, Del Mar used more water and purified it through a reverse-osmosis process. That appeared to help with the consistency from morning to afternoon, and times were somewhat faster. Eleven fatalities occurred on the main track during the meet--six during races and five during training.

(Originally published at

Offline Da Judge

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« 2009-Jul-31, 10:05 AM Reply #22 »
whats the breakdown stats for the SCCT,as compared to pre cushion,also has there been any b/downs on the t/ba cushion?

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2009-Jul-31, 10:31 AM Reply #23 »
Was one in the trials, and one race on the first day I think, that I know of, havn't been checking the Stewards reports.

The one race day was Cattleman from memory.

One point I have to emphasise,

And that is with all the banging on I go on about with the break downs on the Cushion, I do admit that breakdowns also occur on the grass and other surfaces.

But what angered me, is the fact that the Cushion was sold to the public and industry, as being great for horses soundness, and that it would be much better for horses not breaking down on.

Now this is an absolute load of crap, and the worst part about it is, that QR won't come clean as to there being a problem, when quite obviously there is  :rant:
« Last Edit: 2009-Jul-31, 10:33 AM by MagiC~* »

Offline dubbledee

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« 2009-Aug-29, 10:22 AM Reply #24 »
Copied from a post by BGM in Brisbane Racing.

Synthetic danger

Adam Hamilton

August 28, 2009 12:00am

BEWARE the push towards more synthetic racetracks.

That's the clear warning from Victoria-based veterinary expert Dr Andrew Clarke, who has researched the level of fatalities and significant injuries on synthetic tracks compared to the traditional turf.

Clarke will present his peer-reviewed findings at the 55th Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Las Vegas in December.

"My research has covered racing around the world and clearly shows synthetic tracks are more harmful to horses and by association their jockeys as a result of falls and lost riders," Clarke said.

"The risk of fatal injury on turf in the UK and Hong Kong, where they have had synthetic tracks for a lot longer than Australia, is more than double on synthetic tracks compared to turf."

Clarke said the figures were even more disturbing for Geelong's Thoroughtrack.

"The fatality rate in turf racing in Victoria varies between tracks, but overall is very low averaging 0.44 per 1000 starters, but I've gone back since racing started at the Geelong synthetic track and looking at fatalities associated with breakdowns it's more than two per 1000 starters," he said.

"There's no doubt the Australian move from turf to synthetic surfaces decreases the safety for horses and riders.

"My figures show there is a 'honeymoon effect' where fatalities are much lower early then issues seem to arise with drainage problems, breakdown of the fibre or issues with the binding agent," he said.

Clarke's research revealed Victoria's flat racing still sets an international benchmark when it came to safety.

"At 0.44 fatalities per 1000 starters, Victoria stacks up very well against the UK at 0.9 and North America, which varies between 1.4-2.0 and where most of the racing is on non-turf tracks (dirt or synthetic)," he said.

Although Moonee Valley's StrathAyr track has been criticised at times this year, every indication at the moment is that the track is on the mend with Clarke saying it leads the way for safety.

"It certainty surpasses our industry standard with just 0.29 fatalities per 1000 starters."

Clarke's studies included a comparison between significant injuries sustained at Moonee Valley compared with Flemington between October, 2007 and December, 2008.

"The criteria I used was horses diagnosed post-race by Racing Victoria veterinarians as needing veterinary certificates before being allowed to race again," he said.

"Moonee Valley averaged 7.1 cases per 1000 starters compared to Flemington's 11.9."