I think it's an important point that is often glossed over in the arguments for and against synthetics. The latest California fatality data shows a steep decline in racing fatalities on the local synthetic surfaces.. but fatalities during training hours when the environment is decidedly more relaxed have not declined at all.
That shouldn't be the case. Most horses don't break from the gate in the mornings.. There is much less bumping and jostling.. and the pace of workouts are generally much slower... with gradual, non-stressful run-ups to the pole... and plenty of time for warmup.
There are no medication regulations in the mornings.
The (unfinished) studies linked here are science.. Many of you that don't like the synthetics will of course ignore the data.. and that's your prerogative. I understand it. Because if rigorous study concludes that synthetic racing does save horses lives, those who are advocating for dirt racing only are weakened in their arguments. After all, what kind of man ignores data that saves the lives of the horses who race for us, while suggesting that racing on synthetics hampers his handicapping? I understand some of the trainers being against synthetics. They are used to doing things in a certain way, just like the handicappers. Many injuries that are not common to dirt racing are cropping up racing over the synthetic surfaces. It's unfamiliar. Further, I'm unaware of any public stance against the synthetics by the jockeys.. It is very likely they are becoming aware that fewer horses are going down in traffic - at least here in California. Their lives are at stake. These issues are no small matter for them.
I have no illusions. I too preferred dirt for my handicapping. But for me, and others like Hall of Famer, Richard Mandella, quoted in this article, if synthetics helps the horses, we will support it.