Officials at Oaklawn Park announced this week the completion of the ambitious Track Base Project, which was begun early in the summer. The Track Base Project included the rebuilding of the base of the racetrack as well as the normal replenishment of the actual racing surface, or "cushion."
The total track construction required nearly 24 inches of various materials, including six inches of new base. Several thousand tons of those materials were trucked in to Oaklawn, then screened and mixed on site, to complete the project. The life-span of a base can range from several years to 15 or more depending on Mother Nature.
"These are projects that are absolutely critical to a successful racing program," said director of operations, Craig Holtz. "They need to be done every so often to assure that we have the safest possible racing strip for the horses competing during our live racing season."
Working together with consultants Don Beavers and Roy Favret, the Oaklawn maintenance department, under the direction of Jerry Garner, finished in plenty of time for the arrival of live horses for the 2004 Centennial Season. Horses are scheduled to arrive to prepare for the live season around Dec. 1.
"Now that the base has been completely rebuilt," Holtz said, "sod is being placed behind the boards that surround the track to retain the racing surface. New racing surface material is being trucked in daily to add to the 'cushion' material that remained from last season. As the new racing surface material is brought to Oaklawn, it is run through a large mechanical screener. The screener removes all rocks, twigs and other foreign bodies from the material. The material, once screened, will go on to the track in a similar manner as the Track Base material using a machine that will lay the surface down in a consistent layer."
"As we get ready to talk to horsemen around the nation about our 2004 season they want to know about the track surface," said racing secretary Pat Pope. "We have maintained a national reputation for the safety of our racing strip for many years and the work performed this summer should protect and even enhance that good reputation. We are fortunate to have had the time and experienced personnel to finish this project in the allotted time. It's a crucial part of having a great Centennial Season in 2004."
Oaklawn will begin taking reservations for the Breeders' Cup Day on Oct. 15. All of the World Thoroughbred Championship races will be simulcast from Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Reservations will be available for the Carousel Terrace and Oaklawn Club. Signals members will also need to make reservations for the Breeders' Cup Day event.
Gates will open on that day at 8:00 a.m., with a handicapping seminar to follow at @8:10 a.m., conducted by Oaklawn's Jason Milligan and Terry Wallace.
For those making reservations, the Carousel Terrace Reservation includes a $14.95 buffet and $2.50 door charge, for a total of $17.45
To make your reservations, contact Oaklawn at 1-800-OAKLAWN, extension 130, or (501) 623-4411, extension 130.