California officials are taking steps toward establishing heat restrictions for racing in the state after 2-year-old filly Reno Lucky Lady collapsed and died following a race at the State Fair. The California Horse Racing Board's Medication and Track Safety Committee began examining the issue of high temperatures on Friday, as triple-digit temperatures are forecasted for the weekend.
Currently, officials calculate a Heat Stress Index to determine whether competition is safe by adding together the temperature and humidity percentage. A Heat Stress Index value of 180 is enough to cancel racing, according to CHRB state veterinarian Rick Arthur, but that value is rarely reached in a state with low humidity.
Arthur said that above Heat Stress Index values of 130, a horse begins to have trouble dissipating heat. A unusually hot day can also put stress on a horse who isn't used to the climate.
“Oftentimes, an animal may not be acclimated to a (higher) temperature,” Arthur told the Sacramento Bee. “They're not adjusted to the heat.”
Ice buckets and water hoses are on hand for horses in California before and after the race.
Cal Expo racing director David Elliot said the state fair takes additional precautions when the index reaches 150 and “would consider canceling races in extreme heat.”
Read more at The Sacramento Bee
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