McIlwraith, DVM, PhD, BvSc, FRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, shares the $43,000 award with Dr. Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine.
Funded through a grant from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co. to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, the project uses a drop hammer, with simulated hoof, along with ground-penetrating radar, to analyze racing surfaces. Track-surface uniformity is considered a key factor in keeping racehorses safe while running.
The project, addressing both dirt tracks and synthetic surfaces, will create a protocol for track maintenance personnel to establish baseline information and maintain track consistency. For synthetic tracks, the research will include data on wax content and melt point.
Elastikon is the brand name for an elastic tape and other products used in the racing industry and by veterinarians.
The track-evaluation project is one of two dozen research projects currently being funded by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, totaling about $1.2 million.