Polytrack Review: Keeneland Juvenile Consignors Mostly Positive

Three days after an under tack show in Central Kentucky that produced freakishly fast times, consignors had mostly positive reports about the condition of their horses entered in Keeneland's April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The show was the first ever conducted in North America over Polytrack.

"Keeneland's track was unbelievable," said Eddie Woods on Thursday. "For horses to go that fast and be able to walk the next day was a miracle. My horses came out of it great. There were no surprises of any description. The (bucked) shins that they had were the shins that they had before they went to Kentucky."

Woods described the difference between the Polytrack and Keeneland's old dirt surface as "night and day."

During the show on April 9, two horses each breezed a quarter mile in :20 1/5, which was a workout record for a juvenile auction. A filly breezed an eighth in :9 3/5, equaling the juvenile auction workout mark.

"We got a few shins, which isn't surprising," said Niall Brennan. "Whenever a horse goes that fast, even if it's over cotton wool, the energy has to go somewhere. But we're a lot better off than we would have been over the old track. The horses aren't as tired, and they are more comfortable."

During the works, "you didn’t see a horse bobble or lose its footing," Brennan said. "The great thing about this surface (Polytrack) is its consistency. But it would be naïve to say, at this point, that it's problem free.' "

One consignor, who asked not to be identified, noticed an increased number of "hind end" problems, but said that horses with bucked shins "didn't duck in or duck out." Added the seller, "It (Polytrack) is a kinder surface" for horses with sore shins. In addition, the consignor said that horses that had average or below average front end action moved better over Polytrack . explaining,  "There's not that real lifting up motion in the knees."

John Ward, a Keeneland-based trainer who is a prospective buyer at the juvenile auction, talked to a number of consignors, asking them how they felt their horses performed and how their horses were doing following the workouts.

"Overall, there was an upbeat feeling among consignors," Ward said. "They were all very enthusiastic and optimistic. I've watched their horses train the last couple of days, and all of them are full of life."

The Keeneland sale's second and final under tack show is scheduled for Monday, April 16, beginning at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). The auction will be held Tuesday, April 17, starting at 1:30 p.m. (EDT).