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Report: Del Mar Plans Return to Dirt Surface

Track president told San Diego newspaper Del Mar's surface is disintegrating.

Del Mar plans to replace its Polytrack surface with dirt, track president and chief executive officer Joe Harper said Feb. 18.

Harper told the San Diego Union-Tribune the plan has been in the works for a while. The return to dirt would require California Coastal Commission approval, but Harper told the newspaper he doesn't expect any resistance.

The Del Mar Polytrack, a mix of fibers, sand, wax, and other materials, was installed in 2007 as part of a California Horse Racing Board mandate. Harper told the Union-Tribune the asphalt base for the surface is "falling apart."

"They said the life of the Polytrack was seven years, and guess what, we're seeing it," Harper told the Union-Tribune. "The asphalt is disintegrating because of the petroleum base in the wax. We had no other choice. This is the safest decision we could make."

There have been no public indications that other Polytrack surfaces installed before or at about the same time as the one at Del Mar have similar issues.

Del Mar has made it known it would like to host the Breeders' Cup World Championships as early as 2015; last year it widened its turf course to accommodate 14-horse fields. Harper told the Union-Tribune he hopes to have a dirt surface installed in time for meets that year.