Turf Paradise Making Changes To Improve Track Safety; HISA Promises To Get Involved If Fatality Rate Remains High - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Turf Paradise Making Changes To Improve Track Safety; HISA Promises To Get Involved If Fatality Rate Remains High

Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority would “immediately” get involved if, at the start of Arizona's Turf Paradise meet on Nov. 4, the track were to continue to show fatality numbers nearly two times higher than the national average, HISA director of racetrack safety Ann McGovern told the Thoroughbred Daily News.

During an Arizona Racing Commission meeting on Feb. 15, 2022, Arizona Department of Gaming's chief veterinarian Dr. Sue Gale reported that fatality statistics at Turf Paradise in Phoenix were approximately 2.98 per 1,000 starts; the national average for 2020 was 1.41 fatalities per 1,000 starts. A total of 11 horses were fatally injured during morning training, another 18 during racing, and 13 more were lost to other circumstances at Turf Paradise from Oct. 10, 2021, to May 7, 2022.

HISA's currently-enacted racetrack safety program includes stipulations for the racing surface itself, detailing requirements for daily record-keeping and testing methods as well as pre-meet examinations of the base.

To that end, Turf Paradise has hired a new track superintendent in George Lopez, purchased additional track maintenance equipment, and joined forces with the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association (AZHBPA) to hire noted racetrack expert Steven Wood to oversee operations.

“We've had to make sure the banking is how we want it,” Wood told TDN of the pre-meet preparations. He said the team has also removed material from the existing surface and added new sand and bark (for cushioning).

While the Turf Paradise team is confident these changes will make for a safer meet in 2022-2023, HISA will be able to get involved should those expectations fall short. Exactly what that involvement will look like remains to be seen.

“Getting involved may mean talking to management, talking to the track superintendent, sending Mick [Peterson] to look at the track surface, looking at necropsies, looking at training methods,” McGovern told TDN. “HISA would absolutely react to any track that had numbers as significant as we have seen at Turf Paradise last year.”

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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