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Horse & rider safety focus of training program taught at Keeneland

The University of Kentucky and racecourse management leaders teamed up to help improve track safety for both horses and riders.
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 4:15 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky and racecourse management leaders teamed up to help improve track safety for both horses and riders.

In a program called “grading school,” recently held at Keeneland, a University of Kentucky professor and leading racecourse managers from across the nation taught racetrack employees, not only the importance of maintaining their track properly, but also how to improve safety for both horse and rider.

Next week, the thundering of hooves and roaring of fans will fill Keeneland once again as they kick off their Fall Meet.

Before the meet begins, preparations continue with officials from UK and Keeneland teaching future racetrack managers the importance of grading, which is the slope put on dirt and synthetic racetracks.

“The synthetic tracks are really a pain to grade. They’re sticky and it can be very temperature dependent and so giving them experience with that is important. The dirty tracks behave more normally,” said Michael “Mick” Peterson, director of the racetrack safety program

Peterson explains it’s all about maintaining a consistent surface.

“You need to keep the right amount of material over that subsurface, but the other thing that’s really challenging, and important to do, is to maintain the transition from the straights that have a little bit of cross fall so it drains the water, into the banking of the turns,” Peterson said.

Now, while those that participated in the grading school will continue on in the program to get their racecourse management certification, the University of Kentucky is also continuing their research within the university so they can continually improve track safety.

Along with Peterson, racetrack employees also learned from Keeneland’s racecourse superintendant Alfredo Laureano and Dennis Moore from the Santa Anita racetrack.

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