Rillito Park Racetrack ready for new season; horses to wear sensors to track safety

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – The Rillito Park Racetrack is ready for opening weekend Feb. 4-5 and safety is top of mind.

Four horses died at the track on opening weekend last season, sparking controversy.

This season, new sensors will be on the horses and this new program could have a worldwide impact on the sport of horse racing.

It’s called Stride Safe Technology, and it’s the first time something like this will be used on quarter horses.

The device, which sends out what’s called red alerts, has already been used in New York on more than 6,600 horses.

Of 20 horses that died in New York, 18 had red alerts. Of the 6,600 horses using the technology, 12% received a red alert.

The hope is when there’s a red alert veterinarians can use the information to give a horse extra rest or the help it needs.

Rillito Park Racetrack is the first to test this on quarter horses, and Churchill Downs Racetrack which hosts the Kentucky Derby could be using it next.

“We are always willing to be a test run for somebody,” Rillito Park Racetrack General Manager Michael Weiss said. “This is a really neat experiment where we’ll be putting sensors into saddle towels and be reading horses’ gates and there’s going to be a way where we’re going to try and keep an eye on safety.”

Rillito personnel are partnering with the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program with the hope of having sensors on every horse during the racing season. That means they’ll collect data from more than 1,000 horses.

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