The installation of the dirt track at Keeneland.

The installation of the dirt track at Keeneland.

Keeneland Photo

Keeneland Begins Installation of Dirt Surface

Main track material is a blend of sand, silt, and clay native to Kentucky.

Keeneland has begun installation of the dirt racing surface on its main track, the final step in the renovation project that is on schedule for completion next month in advance of the fall meeting.

The surface material is a blend of approximately 19,000 tons of sand, silt, and clay native to Kentucky. It will be installed in three two-inch layers to complete the six inches of racing surface. 

Installation of the dirt surface marks the final stages of a project that has been ongoing for more than a year. It included extensive research and testing of materials, water drainage systems, and design by Keeneland officials and a team of experts.

The track renovation began May 19 with workers removing 16,000 tons of Polytrack to reach the layer of porous asphalt that covers the existing vertical drainage system. The asphalt was then covered by 720,000 square feet of Mirafi 140N geotextile fabric. The fabric layer will maintain the integrity of the 26,000 tons of limestone screenings (Class I sand) placed on top of it to form the base of the race track, according to a release from Keeneland.

The construction of a new drainage system along the inside and outside rails has been completed, creating a system that will work in tandem with the drainage system that was installed during the 2006 renovation. 

Under the entire inside rail and along the outer rail through the straights and chutes, interlocking EcoRain drainage cells filled with pea gravel were stacked horizontally and covered by a flexible porous paving material made from recycled tires.

This system, the first to be used at a race track, is designed to collect and discharge water into the existing drainage system and away from the track.

Read More: A Timeline of Synthetic Surfaces