>It’s the horse, stupid!
>What a joke, NTRA Safety Accreditation of tracks to ‘ensure’ equine safety. A noble premise, I guess, but totally missing the mark in my opinion.
How about requiring the horse to pass a ‘stress’ test before being allowed to race?
Let’s make the trainer prove his/her horse is fit to complete a 6 furlong breeze within 2 weeks of raceday, before being allowed to enter a faster, longer, more demanding event?
Take the Kentucky Derby for instance, 10 furlongs over dirt. The most elite equine athletes in the world should be able to first handle a 6 furlong breeze in the 2 weeks prior to the big day.
Your proposed starter better show us that he can breeze 6 furlongs at Churchill in a reasonable time, say 1:15 or better (from a gated start would be nice, but I know that is asking too much) AND demonstrate, via on-board heart rate monitor, a recovery heart rate of under 120bpm in the first 120 seconds after starting his gallop out. This data collection takes about 30 seconds.
You see, running several sub 13sec furlongs builds up an oxygen debt in a horse. When the breeze ends, the athlete has to pay that debt back through an elevated heart rate – the quicker that heart rate sinks back to below 120bpm, the faster the oxygen debt was repaid – the fitter/sounder the horse. Any pre-existing conditions that could lead to a fatal breakdown will be exposed via improper recovery heart rate.
You see, there already exists a precedent for using a heart rate monitor in conjunction with equine racing.
Many endurance races of 30 miles and over require the checking of an exercising horse’s heart rate during several checkpoints throughout the course.
Should the heart rate fall outside of the normal ranges, the horse is disqualified from the competition and immediately examined by trained personnel.
Watching a horse walk is not enough. We already have a ton of subjective opinions, it’s time to add some objective numerical data to the picture.