Rillito Racetrack announces no horse breakdowns during 2022 season, thanks to new StrideSAFE program.

Rillito Racetrack announces no horse breakdowns during 2022 season, thanks to new StrideSAFE program.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 11:04 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Rillito Racetrack is coming off a successful season. After 18 days, officials announced there were no horse breakdowns as a result of the more than 140 races.

Officials with the racetrack say it’s all thanks to a new program, StrideSAFE. It’s a biometric sensor mechanism that slips into the saddle cloth to detect even small changes in a horse’s gait at high speed. The changes are undetectable to the naked eye and are recorded in a stop-light fashion with green for all-clear, varying shades of amber as warnings for possible lameness and red for potentially serious injuries.

“We want everybody to be safe. So we are going to do everything we can. The safety of the race track surface was safe. We really work hard at it,” Mike Weiss, the General Manager of the Rillito Racetrack, said of StrideSafe. He added it had been tested on a few thousand other racehorses before coming to Tucson.

Weiss said they looked at “many different ways” before moving forward with StirdeSAFE. He continued, “This technology measures the horse during the race. It gives a yellow light, green light, red light type form with different guidelines and different percentages.”

This technology is placed in the horse’s number near its spine and looks for any sign of distress or injury while the horse is in motion.

In 2021, officials reported five horse deaths, which played a part in bringing StrideSAFE to the track.

Hailey Shiffer, the Assistant General Manager, said she’s already seen StrideSAFE in action and is already impressed with its results. “It picks up the smallest most minute changes in these horses. Which can be an indication of a problem starting or a problem that may be recurring,” she said.

She added that those problems typically start at the back of the horse, like their hips, which is near where the technology is strategically placed. This means every horse will get their own individual report after each race.

This race season is already over, and will kick off again next February. The hope is for this technology to used to help other horses around the country.