Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland: No Plans to Ditch Polytrack

Rumors re-circulated recently about a plan to go back to a dirt surface.

Keeneland said Feb. 7 it has no intention to remove its Polytrack surface after this year's spring meet. The track responded to a request for comment based on rumors that have recently circulated.

Keeneland prefers not to comment on rumors but released a statement from president and chief executive officer Bill Thomason. Similar rumors in 2012 were found to be false.

"We have one of the safest racing surfaces in America, and there are no immediate plans to change it," Thomason said. "Keeneland draws the top horses and horsemen in the country and our races are among the highest quality offered anywhere. We have among the largest field size in the country, our handle has increased, and our attendance is up.

"Polytrack is the most prevalent of the all-weather surfaces available and remains a viable, reliable surface as evidenced by the fact that other venues continue to use it, including Lingfield--which was the first to adopt the surface and recently elected to re-install it, as well as Caulfield Race Course in Australia.

"We've always said that our efforts to improve racing are a journey, not a destination. We are committed to having a surface that provides the best safety possible for horses and riders while also attracting the sport's top horses and trainers to compete at this place that showcases the best of Thoroughbred racing.

"This is an ongoing process, and we will never compromise on either safety or quality."

The surface was first used for racing at Keeneland in the fall of 2006. For 32 days of racing over two meets last year, Keeneland averaged 9.45 horses per race, one of the highest in the country, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems, and traditionally has one of the lowest catastrophic injury rates in North America.