Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2016

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)


Mechanical Engineering


Michael Peterson

Second Committee Member

Senthil Vel

Third Committee Member

Zhihe Jin

Additional Committee Members

Anil Kizhakkepurakkal


Moisture observation and control is the single largest factor that controls the mechanical properties of sand based surfaces used for thoroughbred horse racing. Currently the moisture content is estimated based on the experience and expertise of the superintendent and water is added as needed based on experience. While extensive modelling has been done on moisture loss from a range of soils with crop covers in agronomy, currently no method exists to estimate the evaporation from a surface that is tilled many times a day and remains in a partially compacted state. This thesis develops an evaporation model based on real time weather data which also factors in track maintenance. The model is based on the Penman-Monteith evapotranspiration model for crops. The effect of transpiration of agricultural crops is eliminated from the model and a correction is developed for the effect of harrowing of the track which is done during breaks in training as well as between races. Calculated moisture contents are compared to moisture contents measured at four racetracks in a range of climates encountered in North American racing. Reasonable agreement between the measured moisture content and the calculated moisture content is achieved through the use of corrected terms.