In the midst of a dreary, misty first day of Breeders' Cup World Championship races Oct. 26, Robert Juliano, director of facilities and tracks at Monmouth Park, explained how officials are working to maintain both the dirt and the turf to provide the best possible conditions for tomorrow's card.
Juliano said he was hopeful the rain might taper off between 1-1:30 p.m. for the Oct. 27 races. "We may even have some sun for the Classic," he said.
The track and turf were labeled "sloppy" and "yielding" the majority of Oct. 26. After the conclusion of the Friday races, Monmouth officials will seal the track and probe the turf to determine how much moisture is on the surface.
While Juliano said there was a slight possibility the track could be labeled "fast" Oct. 27, the situation is doubtful, given in the next 24 hours another inch of rain is expected to fall. The main track consists of 85%-87% sand, with the remainder a mixture of silt and clay.
The condition of the dirt tomorrow will depend upon how quickly the track dries out. "If the sun comes out and we have some wind, we could have muddy to good composition," Juliano said.
He said the slow and steady drizzle was the most difficult type of precipitation for both the main track and turf, since there have been no breaks for the surfaces to dry or drain off. If it rained hard and stopped, the water on the grass could run off more easily, Juliano said.
Juliano said Monmouth's turf course consists of six inches of topsoil, underneath which lies another eight-inch layer of grass material that allows for drainage.
Breeders' Cup officials will make the final call if the turf is unacceptable to race on Saturday. Juliano said the best-case scenario to expect for the grass would be "soft" or "yielding" conditions.
"If the sun comes out, maybe the top will dry enough that it would absorb and go back to yielding," Juliano said. "Right now, I think it will stay soft and sloppy through the remainder of (today and tomorrow), but we're just hoping for some wind and sun."
Said Jim Gluckson, a spokesman for the Breeders' Cup: "The Breeders' Cup will do everything possible to keep the races (Saturday) on the turf."