Rillito To Test StrideSafe Sensors At 2023 Mixed Meet - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Rillito To Test StrideSafe Sensors At 2023 Mixed Meet

Rillito Racetrack in Tucson, Ariz.

Rillito Park in Tucson, Ariz., will test StrideSafe technology at its 2023 meet in hopes of improving the track's safety record and using the system on racing Quarter Horses for the first time.

Rillito general manager Mike Weiss announced the project at the most recent Arizona Racing Commission meeting, held on Jan. 12.

StrideSafe is a device which uses three accelerometers and GPS to identify changes in a horse's high-speed movement. So far it has been utilized prospectively in New York, where it collected data from 6,626 starts. The device generated 12 percent of what its users called “red alert” flags from its data collection. During the same period, there were 20 fatal breakdowns, 18 of which had generated red alert ratings in the horse's final race.

Read more about StrideSafe in our reporting from this year's Global Symposium On Racing

“After the Rillito Park research, major tracks around the world could potentially employ StrideSafe biometric sensors to identify horses with a potential for significant injury to horses and riders,” said Weiss.

Rillito struggled with fatal injuries during its 2022 season. The track made local headlines when its opening weekend saw multiple fatalities. The track saw seven deaths from 63 races in the first four weeks of its meet.

The 2023 StrideSafe project will be managed in part by students at the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program to help analyze the sensor reading information. Readings will be taken on at least 1,000 Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and organizers hope all entries in all races during the meet will have the sensors on board.

Rillito's field safety stewards' aides will also work together to identify horses they think should wear StrideSafe in workouts and be subjected to a pre-workout examination by track regulatory veterinarians.

Longtime racing steward Dan Fick will assist in overseeing the StrideSafe project and will determine next steps after a horse receives a red rating, which would likely include placing on the veterinarian's list.

The total cost of using the technology for the upcoming mixed meet, which runs Feb. 4 through April 2, is about $45,000. Weiss said Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale has pledged a donation of $30,000 to cover part of the costs, and Rillito Park Foundation has agreed to shoulder the remaining $15,000.

“I believe it will be worth it,” Weiss said. “We are going to be a track that the entire world will be looking at.”

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