Track Tech

Technology is transforming the sport of kings.

Veterinarians can improve a horse's value. Smart phones may attract younger fans to the track. And new designs can make those tracks safer - for both horse and rider.

In collaboration with WEKU Radio and Louisville Public Media, the Innovation Trail is exploring how high technology is changing the horse industry.

6:35am

Fri May 4, 2012
Track Tech

Harsh realities of life "on the backside"

An estimated 70 percent of the horse industry's behind-the-scenes workers are migrant workers.
Devin Katayama WFPL

For Kentucky Derby week, the Innovation Trail is partnering with WEKU and Louisville Public Media to explore how technology is changing the horse racing industry. This is part five of a five-part series.

It’s often the trainer, the horse owner, then the jockey who are celebrated after a Triple Crown race.

But behind the glitz and glamor, preparing the horse is often a demanding 365-day-a-year process.

“People who is out of the track, don’t know how we do what is behind the race,” says Arturo Espinosa. Espinosa is visiting Churchill Downs’ Backside Learning Center, which offers education and life skills services to “backside” workers - including grooms, hot-walkers and exercise riders.

Industry professionals estimate at least 70 percent of “the backside” is made up of foreign migrant workers.

But a potential change to federal visa laws could make the process of hiring workers outside the country more arduous and more expensive for trainers. 

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7:05am

Thu May 3, 2012
Track Tech

How equine medicine became big business

For Kentucky Derby week, the Innovation Trail is partnering with WEKU and Louisville Public Media to explore how technology is changing the horse racing industry. This is part four of a five-part series.

From the ceiling of a surgery suite, an 800-pound thoroughbred - slumbering under anesthesia - dangles upside down from a crane. 

Techs and nurses at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. carefully lower the colt onto a doublewide gurney. Then he’s hooked up to a ventilator delivering oxygen and anesthesia.

The doctor does an ultrasound, showing her intern where to inject an expensive stem cell treatment.

Thoroughbred racing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Equine veterinary care has become extremely sophisticated.

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6:20am

Wed May 2, 2012
Track Tech

In dirt track vs. synthetic, safety comes second

Horses at Pimlico Race Course - as well as at the other two Triple Crown venues - run on dirt. Experts say synthetic surfaces have a better track record of minimizing horse injuries.
Matt Laslo WEKU

For Kentucky Derby week, the Innovation Trail is partnering with WEKU and Louisville Public Media to explore how technology is changing the horse racing industry. This is part three of a five-part series.

When the bugle heralds the start of the Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, thousands of people wearing Sunday’s best will be in the grandstands, while college students party away in the infield.

Not today.

The grandstands are eerily desolate and the infield is populated with just a handful of track workers.

Like every other stop of the Triple Crown, the track at Pimlico is dirt - a surface critics say is more harmful to horses than the new generation of synthetics.

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7:45am

Tue May 1, 2012
Track Tech

Can horse racing return to relevance?

A common sight at many racetracks across the country.
Matt Laslo WEKU

For Kentucky Derby week, the Innovation Trail is partnering with WEKU and Louisville Public Media to explore how technology is changing the horse racing industry. This is part two of a five-part series.

It’s early April in Lexington, Ky. and there’s not a cloud in the sky on opening day at Keeneland Race Course.

Stands are packed with young and enthusiastic fans in this park-like setting in the heart of thoroughbred breeding country.

But this isn’t the reality for most of the sport.

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7:15am

Mon April 30, 2012
Track Tech

Why betting on horses is legal, when gambling elsewhere is not

Larry Scott watches the races from the many screens at the off-track betting parlor in Phoenix, N.Y. He says he doesn't have any desire to bet on the horses online and prefers the OTB.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

For Kentucky Derby week, the Innovation Trail is partnering with WEKU and Louisville Public Media to explore how technology is changing the horse racing industry. This is part one of a five-part series.

The rules on legal gambling in New York State can be a little murky.

Casinos on Indian Territory are allowed, but not elsewhere - for now. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been calling for the legalization of casinos in the rest of the state.

New York also already has what are known as “racinos”: horse racing tracks where there are also video slot machines, along with plenty of betting on the actual horses.

Betting on those same horses online is also allowed. But betting on poker and other card games on the internet is not.

Why?

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