More than 100 attendees gathered at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on Monday for the start of Track Superintendents' Field Day. The event brings together track superintendents and their crews from around the United States, Canada and Dubai to share ideas and information about track maintenance, safety, equipment and more. There are no registration fees thanks to a long list of sponsors headed by title sponsor Equine Equipment.
“We couldn't be more pleased with the turnout for this year's event,” said Roy Smith, track superintendent at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and founder of the gathering that has been held since 2001. “We have representatives from about 50 Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks along with a great group of speakers and sponsors. This is the only chance track supers really have to meet, and a lot of excellent information is being shared here.”
Dr. Michael Hardy, a veterinarian for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, presented a session titled “Emergency Horse Ambulance Response on the Track.”
He covered best practices for horse ambulances and emergency response plans, not just on the track ovals but also in the paddock and any other areas where a horse could get injured.
“We can't always predict what's going to happen, and we see something new every year,” he said. “We have to be prepared and communicate as best we can.”
Hardy mentioned the importance of communication between all parties at the track, from the veterinarians to stewards to track crew, and how tracks should strive to provide the same level of emergency response during training hours as during live racing.
Terry Meyocks, president and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild, addressed the group and also hit on the topic of communication. He noted that at most tracks jockeys and track supers have positive and open lines of communication and that working together helps ensure the safest racing possible.
“As everyone knows, today we are under intense scrutiny,” he said. “We must all do our part for safety and integrity to enhance the public perception of our sport, and that's part of why this event is so important.”
Meyocks also talked about the need for tracks to invest the needed resources for proper management of the racing surfaces, including the use of the best equipment, technologies and staff available.
“Safety for the human and equine athletes should always be paramount,” he said. “A small investment in track management can save millions in lawsuits and medical bills, and of course most importantly save the lives of jockeys and horses.”
Following the presentation, Roy Smith gave Meyocks a $1,000 check for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund on behalf of the group.
Other topics on Monday included the history of racing at Charles Town, extreme weather and irrigation technology. Several equipment demonstrations were also included.
Track Superintendents' Field Day concludes Tuesday with a program that includes keynote speaker Jolene Brown, known as “The Dr. Phil of Agriculture,” and legendary retired harness racing driver John Campbell along with several other panels and presentations.
For more information, go to www.tracksupers.com.
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