Track Surface Maintenance Key, Officials Say

As people rush to takes sides in the great dirt-versus-synthetic racetrack surface debate, Mick Peterson, MS, PhD, and Santa Anita Park track superintendent Richard Tedesco suggested consistency and maintenance trump type of surface.

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As people rush to takes sides in the great dirt-versus-synthetic racetrack surface debate, Mick Peterson, MS, PhD, and Santa Anita Park track superintendent Richard Tedesco suggested consistency and maintenance trump type of surface.

Injuries to horses can be reduced on dirt and synthetic surfaces, they said, if tracks can use data to assess their surfaces and keep them consistent through weather changes and amount of traffic.

Peterson and Tedesco spoke to a group of owners and breeders at the "Modern Veterinary Medicine & Your Racehorse" seminar in Southern California in March 14. Greg Ferraro, DVM, of the University of California-Davis Center for Equine Health moderated the session, sponsored by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Thoroughbred Foundation, and Southern California Equine Foundation.

When asked which surface he would prefer–dirt or synthetic–for horse safety, Tedesco said he might prefer the "ultimate dirt track," but he’s not sure one exists. Tedesco for years worked on dirt surfaces and has overseen the evolution of Santa Anita’s synthetic surface

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Written by:

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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