Keeneland director of racing Rogers Beasley said the racetrack is ready to open its spring meeting April 4, despite the threat of heavy rain in the area beginning April 3 and continuing through opening day. Forecasts are calling for around three inches of rain in the Central Kentucky area.
Beasley said Mike Young, Keeneland track superintendent, worked the artificial Polytrack surface about three weeks ago and worked it again last week in anticipation of rain on opening weekend.
“He (Young) feels very comfortable with the track, and he is constantly on the lookout,” Beasley said. “We are in his hands and we are feeling very comfortable right now.”
Beasley said the track uses a gallop master, which is like a light harrowing, on the surface and feels it is ready to stand up to the possible rain.
“One of the true pleasures of having this track is that you don’t wake up in the middle of the night hearing the rain on the roof and think about what are the horses going to be like,” Beasley said. “Water runs right through it (Polytrack) so rapidly and it drains superbly.”
Speaking of Polytrack, Beasley said despite being asked numerous times, and the Polytrack appearing to be a darker color, Keeneland has done nothing to alter the composition of the surface.
“What we have always said since we put in Polytrack was that it would darken over a few years,” Beasley said. “If you look at the training track, it looks a lot darker, and it was put in a couple of years earlier. This track will continue to darken and all it is is natural darkening. We have said that since we first installed it.”
While Keeneland officials are not doubting the readiness of the main track, the chance of rain could force the two turf races, including the Central Bank Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT), carded for opening day, to the main track.
“We will wait and see what happens with the rain before we make any determination on what to do,” said Beasley, who added there are three turf races carded for Saturday. “We do try to run the races on the turf when possible.”
Beasley said Keeneland often does not card as many turf races during the opening weekend of the spring meeting because the grass on the turf course hasn’t fully developed yet due to weather conditions.
“The turf course is a combination of fescue and bluegrass, and bluegrass ussually takes a little longer to come up,” he said. “But, after opening weekend we try to card a couple of turf races everyday of the meet.”