When the CHRB and its chairman at the time, Richard Shapiro, mandated the installation of synthetic surfaces at all major California race tracks, we were told they would be safer for the horses and significantly decrease the number of fatalities.
But Del Mar’s Polytrack surface has gotten off to a bad start this summer after three horses broke down and had to be euthanized in the past six days — one last Sunday during a morning workout and two in the first three days of racing.
More than $40 million, which could have been put to much greater use, has been spent by Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita on these artificial tracks when all that really needed to be replaced were the bases, which then could have been topped off by quality dirt.
We’re still receiving conflicting data, which helps explain why two Southland newspapers reported different statistics this past week when reporting the number of fatalities at Del Mar the first two years of Polytrack.
It’s a good thing for the CHRB that there’s never been an official list of all the horses that have come down with soft tissue injuries since the synthetics were installed. That would be a mighty long list.