Turfway Park will get a more accurate indication of how its synthetic Polytrack will play during four months of fall and winter racing that begins Nov. 27, opening day of the holiday meet.
Though it hasn't made an official decision on whether to install Polytrack on its main dirt track, the board of directors of Keeneland directed management Oct. 12 to continue with the planning, design, and engineering for the synthetic surface.
The feedback was much louder than the sound of hooves as Turfway Park unveiled its Polytrack surface with three "trial" races Wednesday morning.
The first pari-mutuel race on the new Polytrack at Turfway Park isn't scheduled until the evening of Sept. 7, but trainers have showed they're anxious to try it out by entering enough horses for three exhibition events the morning of Aug. 24.
With the conclusion of training hours at noon Aug. 10, Philadelphia Park closed its main track for racing and training for 14 to 16 days, weather permitting, for renovation of the surface.
The Polytrack racing surface at Turfway Park was installed two weeks ahead of schedule, but the sighs of relief by track officials may be short-lived as the Sept. 7 meet opener approaches. This is new territory, and questions abound, not the least of which is how horsemen and the betting public will respond.
Six-furlong races at Prairie Meadows were shortened to 5 1/2 furlongs Aug. 2 because of an uneven spot in the backstretch chute.
Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said he expects the Kentucky racetrack's new Polytrack surface to be ready for horses to train on by mid-August, when trainers are expected to begin arriving for the fall meet that begins Sept. 7.
A West Virginia legislator whose district includes Charles Town Races & Slots is advocating a plan to enlarge the racing surface and, if necessary, renovate dilapidated Shenandoah Downs and race there during the down time--or perhaps permanently.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino has suspended live racing until May 19 so officials can address concerns by jockeys about the condition of the racing surface.
Keeneland and Turfway Park plan a joint press conference April 27 at Keeneland to discuss installation of the Polytrack surface, now used on Keeneland's five-eighths-mile training track, at Turfway.
Gulfstream Park, currently undergoing a major reconstruction, will have a one-mile chute on its dirt track when its 2005 racing season gets under way Jan. 3. The 86-day meet runs through April 24.
Despite numerous cancellations because of weather or track conditions, Turfway Park has registered business gains during the winter/spring meet that extends through April 1. And with live racing set to resume March 10, it appears the racing surface finally has dried out after a washed-out weekend.
A little rain and a new approach to help retain moisture in the main track at Santa Anita Park seems to have addressed some gripes aired the week of Feb. 11 by jockeys about conditions at the Arcadia, Calif., facility.
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