Turfway Park

Turfway Park

Pat Lang

Turfway Begins Racing Surface Improvements

Owner Rock Gaming commits $500,000 to improving Polytrack surface.

Though it already has one of the safest tracks in the country, Turfway Park plans $500,000 worth of improvements to its Polytrack surface through 2015.

The improvements, which will be paid for by Turfway controlling owner Rock Gaming, will focus on the addition of oil, wax, and fibers to the synthetic material. The addition of oils and wax to the surface for this year was completed Oct. 24 in advance of the track opening for training for this year's holiday meet.

Before that meet starts Dec. 1, fibers will be added to the surface.

"We did this before it was really pressed for by the horsemen because we knew it was the right thing to do," Turfway director of operations Chip Bach said. "Thankfully our ownership, Rock, understands the value of a fair and safe racing surface.

"I'm sure there's a lot of sexy things we could put $500,000 into, but this is kind of core to our business. To me it's very impressive that they knew this was important and stepped up."

Turfway was the first racetrack in North America to run races on a synthetic track. The Polytrack has been in place since the meet of September 2005.

Bach said similar changes will be made in each of the next two years with regular maintenance scheduled going forward.

"Our ownership group approved a three-year project to get it back at its peak performance and then an ongoing maintenance schedule–a yearly schedule–that will maintain it as opposed to waiting for it to dry out, deteriorate, and become dusty," said Bach. He noted Turfway officials believe the surface will be like new at the end of the three-year stretch.

Despite the challenges of winter racing, Turfway registered a catastrophic breakdown rate of 0.58 per 1,000 starts in 2012. That rate is 70% lower than the 1.92 rate for all participating North American tracks in the Equine Injury Database.