Churchill Downs in Louisville, USA is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby. Three race meetings are held there every year (Spring, September, and November) during which multiple races take place four to five days a week. The Spring meeting this year started on 29th April 2023, through May and June, and was due to finish just before Independence Day on 4th July.
Spring 2023 differed from previous meetings and years in one respect alone. Every horse was fitted with a wireless wearable technology called a StrideMASTER. It is worn in the saddle cloth under the saddle, and according to its website it combines GPS, infrared and motion sensors utilising precision componentry to deliver accurate and reliable data that can be fed back to trainers and broadcasters in real time. As we are constantly being told, data is gold and having such data available would no doubt create a whole new level of analysis and engagement with punters, trainers, vets, owners, and more casual observers too.
I have no doubt that it has its uses at times as a training tool to optimise training regimes and as a veterinary diagnostic aid. I also have no doubt that the intention behind it was/is to spot glitches and problems as early as possible and enable injuries to be avoided, and for signs of potential respiratory infections etc to be spotted early too, I’m sure. However, you cannot ignore the electrical and energetic fundamentals of cells, organs, and organisms and the potential physiological interference that external electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can have. Just because wearable technology can be tolerated in relatively non-stressful situations, or for a relatively short time once a week in training, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cause some electrical disruptions and consequences in those situations (that can be relatively quickly and easily recovered from), and it doesn’t mean it can be tolerated in the extremes of racing when adrenaline is pumping hard and the horse’s physiology is being asked to perform at its absolute limits, especially when the margin for error has been narrowed right down by training the horses to the nth degree using this type of technology in the first place! If all horses are using such technology to maximise performance in terms of fitness and speed, it won’t mean they’re all running more within their capabilities, it will just enable more/all horses to perform at a higher level. You could argue that more accidents will happen because of faster speeds and less margin for safety in the strength of ligaments, tendons, and bones as a result. It’s similar to what happened when fences at National Hunt races were lowered at Aintree – the horses can now try to jump them at a faster pace and arguable get hurt more seriously when it goes wrong.
Getting back to the StrideMASTER, the company and technology appear to have been around since 2009 originating in New Zealand. They joined up with Tasracing in 2010 to deliver race day data. In 2017 it was incorporated into racing at Addington in Christchurch, NZ and seems to have a large dataset of 25,000 races under its belt which would tend to suggest that past safety issues would likely have been flagged before.
What I do know is that this was the first time it was used en masse at Churchill Downs, USA. Horses also began wearing these devices this spring during morning workouts there too. What isn’t clear, is how many trainers and horses maybe used this or other similar wearable technology before, and if they did, on what basis.
I also don’t know if this is a new and “more advanced” model, and if so, how different this StrideMASTER device may differ from the previous version. The following potential changes in parameters could have significant and unpredicted consequences unless there was a good knowledgebase and understanding of the impact of EMFs on biological systems. Given the lack of admission of harms from EMFs in the telecoms industry we cannot be surprised if this head-in-the-sand attitude spills over into the wearable technology industry too – it’s a huge business opportunity for those who only see the £££ and $$$ and ignore the Hertz and harms!
In other words, what might have started as a fairly basic, relatively low-tech concept that was physiologically tolerable, could easily have morphed into a high-tech AI-driven and relatively high powered unit that could bring its EMF interference levels right up to the boundaries of tolerance. It could be that this, combined with other potential factors that I will discuss later, were enough in Churchill Downs to tip the balance over the edge and significantly contribute to the disasters that occurred.
- Number of sensors: more = increased EMFs
- Increased frequency of reading sensors = increased EMFs
- Increased frequency of broadcasting data from the horse = increased EMFs
- Change in carrier frequency – may increase disruption if closer to an important resonant frequency eg of a voltage-gated ion channel
- Increased power of battery pack and/or increased power used for data relays from sensors to saddle pack, and/or from saddle pack to remote data receiver.
- Proximity of sensors and saddle pack to nerves and/or bioactive points such as acupuncture points = increased interference that doesn’t stay local
There is no doubt that the StrideMASTER device seems to be what sounds like an impressive piece of kit! It monitors the horse’s movements 2,400 times per second throughout the race, sending 2,400 pulses of radio frequency (RF) radiation every second through the body of the horse. It also contains a GPS component that communicates with global positioning satellites to calculate stride length and speed. It communicates with the RFID chip implanted in the left side of every horse’s neck, ensuring that the chip also emits radiation throughout the race presumably to distinguish each horse’s individual data and so they can all use the same frequency carrier wave. It also means that all horses running close together will receive interfering EMFs from all the other horses’ kit around it, and not just its own.
I’m not totally convinced about what part the aluminium racing plates they’re shod with play. Aluminium is often used to shield EMFs. I’d have to see evidence that they can act as an effective transmitter when worn, especially as they would tend to ground any charge too. If the nails are steel then they could have a greater facility to act as antennae and could potentially create strange sensations in horses’ feet where we know they have very sensitive lamellae.
On 29th April 2023, horses at Churchill Downs began to die, or suffered such severe injuries during races that they were euthanized. In one case it occurred in the pre-race paddock, when Code of Kings “flipped” and broke his neck. Chasing Artie died after the race on the way to the unsaddling area “for no apparent reason”. Such was the rise in the number of injuries and deaths that on 2nd June race officials took the unprecedented step of announcing that the Spring Meeting would be suspended as of 10th June. It must be seen as an
admission that something statistically very different and therefore very wrong must have been causing so many more injuries and deaths than ever before at past equivalent Meetings.
In 2022, the national average was about 5 deaths occurred for every 4,000 horses that started a race. The Spring Meeting at Churchill Downs registered 12 deaths from 1,600 starts where the national average predicted just 2, representing a 6-fold increase in mortality.
Track, post mortem, and other obvious inspections have found no reason to explain why these horses might have been more prone to injury or collapse. When all obvious causes have been eliminated and only a single different variable remains, it must be significant in some way.
The horse named Parents Pride simply collapsed and died for no apparent reason during a race on April 29. No drugs were found in her system, and no poisons. She was running normally before the race. No abnormalities were found in her heart, brain or lungs.
This isn’t the first time that a racetrack in the USA has been associated with deaths that were suggested to have been EMF-related, and these earlier events might hold the key to understanding what might have occurred at Churchill Downs. Bear with me…
At the end of 2011, Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, CA boasted about its new telecommunications system that facilitated racegoers being able to get bets on during the Meeting using their new mobile wagering app. Imagine the telecoms capacity required to handle so many people all trying to get their last second bets on and the EMFs that would blanket the whole track in such an electrosmog! No more waiting in line for a bookie, wondering if you’re going to get your bet on at the best price because your tipster
has just let everyone know (after he’s got his bet on at an even better price of course!). The rest of the racing and sporting world watched on with interest as this promised to be the future for at-event betting.
Fast forward to October 2019 and another headline announced the 33rd racehorse death at Santa Anita from a suspected heart attack since the previous December. The racecourse didn’t suspend racing as it should have done, resulting in Governor Newsome calling for an investigation and for the course to be shut down in June just after the 29th horse had died.
Allowing masts on such race properties not only ensures punters aren’t put off by poor call reception and capacity but adds another income stream to the track owner.
We have known about the dangers of EMFs, not only to people but to animals too, for decades. Horses, especially thoroughbreds are highly strung and sensitive. I suspect that Churchill Downs has a not inconsiderable telecoms capacity, that on the busiest race days runs at high traffic - so lots of EMFs at frequencies we know can interfere in biological systems at power levels well below those regarded as safe by ICNIRP who advise many Governments around the world.
So, put this together with the EMFs from all the StrideMASTERs on all the horses, from all the sensors, all relaying literally thousands of bits of data every second to the sport TV networks, stewards, vets, trainers, and no doubt an app that all punters can log in to watch, and the whole site was buzzing with EMFs. Being modulated digital signals the horses didn’t stand a chance of being able to accommodate to any of the signals.
Combined that excessive EMF burden with the much higher adrenaline rush of racing compared to training, and horses at the limits of their physiology and it isn’t too difficult to see how, if there was interference with nerve conduction, it could adversely impact gait, proprioception (self-awareness of where limbs are), coordination, heart function and potentially put the sympathetic nervous system, (the fight, flight, fright branch of the autonomic nervous system) into overdrive as evidenced by horses being overly nervous in their behaviour and “flipping”. At high speed, it doesn’t take much loss of coordination for a fall and severe injury.
Whilst this is the effect of “the perfect storm” of EMFs to cause such acute and dramatic results we cannot overlook the more chronic burden of continuous lower level exposures. Powerful relay masts and high power pylons in fields away from human residential homes, or masts sited in riding schools to help ends meet, plus 24/7/365 WiFi exposure for the CCTV in the stable or whatever else puts a constant burden on our horses and all the other animals who live in proximity whether farmed, domesticated, or wild.
We should take this tragic happening at Churchill Downs as a warning – not only for what goes on at racetracks but in our yards, fields, and homes. Ignoring the fact that animals (and us) are electrical beings that are susceptible to EMF interference won’t stop the harm. The more we add on layers of EMFs through smart technology using higher frequencies of 5G, 6G and beyond, the more frequently we are going to witness such “unexplained” phenomena. If you refuse to look you won’t see, and if we keep suppressing those scientists and clinicians like me who have been warning about this for years there is only one way this technology will lead…
For more information on how our animals are being harmed by EMFs check out the Electrosmog page in the Resources section of my website.