Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Race Track and Arena Surface Testing

Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Consistent surfaces for racing, training, and showing

The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory is a non-profit (501c3)
organization that coordinates and performs testing of surfaces primarily for the Thoroughbred racing industry. Testing includes all types of surfaces used in horse racing as well as other equine sports surfaces. Comparative data based on on-site and lab testing is used and shared on a regional basis.

Fully documented procedures for all tests and novel equipment developed by Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory is in the public domain with international standard testing used where appropriate.

Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory can provide the testing services both on-site and material testing in the lab for all tests listed by federal requirements or included in international equine sport surface testing standards. RSTL serves as a reference laboratory for the industry. Comparative results as well as real time data is available in conjunction with the maintenance database and the injury database developed by the Jockey Club.

Our Services

Pre-Meet Testing

Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory performs on site seasonal or pre-meet testing based on the protocols developed as the Maintenance Quality System (MQS). The pre-meet testing includes surface testing using the Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester (OBST), base inspection using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), checking crossfalls, verifying pole distances and rail heights, and taking standard material samples from the racetracks for lab testing. The MQS testing also satisfies current surface testing requirements for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.

Lab Testing

Lab testing is provided for dirt, turf and synthetic materials.  Basis tests are available such as Particle Size Distribution (PSD), Organic Content, Particle Shape, and Salt Content. These are complemented by tests suited to synthetic tracks such as wax separation, thermal analysis and wax chemistry. Turf testing includes the ability to characterize profiles of materials from small samples using laser diffraction.  Performance testing includes Permeability, Water Holding Capacity, Bulk Density and Triaxial Shear.

Daily Monitoring

The Maintenance Quality System includes daily monitoring of moisture content, cushion depth, penetration, surface temperature, maintenance routines, and weather data. RSTL provides the free use of the MQS database for all Thoroughbred racetracks to provide online storage and access to the daily monitoring records. Data entered into the MQS database is automatically fed to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to meet the requirements for record keeping. 


The laboratory will commit to providing laboratory resources with timely response for all relevant tests. The laboratory results database will be developed in conjunction with the maintenance database and the injury database developed by the Jockey Club. As new methods tailored to the unique needs of a racing and performance horse surfaces evolve, the laboratory will serve a necessary role in the development of standards for racing surfaces.

Additional Sponsors

Woodbine Racing Association, Finger Lakes Racing Association, Keeneland Association and Turfway Park.