Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has announced the selection of Martin Collins Surfaces and Footings and its Polytrack surface as the new main track surface for its 2007 summer racing season. The Polytrack manufacturer is an affiliate of the Keeneland Association in Lexington.A five-member committee voted to select Polytrack following the completion of an RFP (request for proposal) process overseen by the California Construction Authority and the State Race Track Leasing Commission.Polytrack, an engineered racing surface that consists of silica sand, fibers and recycled materials, has been installed on racetracks in the United Kingdom and, most recently, in Kentucky and Canada. The California Horse Racing Board directed that all major tracks in the state have a form of engineered surface in place by the end of 2007.Del Mar's engineering and installation plans for Polytrack have received the support of the city of Del Mar and the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the body that oversees the 350-acre, state-owned fairgrounds on which the track sits. Those plans will be presented to the California Coastal Commission for approval in mid-December as the final hurdle before installation can begin. DMTC officials are quietly confident that the commission's findings will be positive regarding the installation on its one-mile main track. "The key to the future is safety," said DMTC president and general manager Joe Harper. "Polytrack is going to make our racing surface a safer place for our horses and riders – and we know if we do that good things will follow. We are in the horse business and our top priority must be the horses and riders. We are especially pleased to be working with our friends at Keeneland on this project as an organization that shares our commitment to the horse and to presenting the sport of Thoroughbred racing in the best possible way." Should Del Mar receive approval from the Coastal Commission, plans call for installation to start in January and proceed over a period of several months. The current main track would be skimmed down and removed, a drainage pipe system installed, followed by a covering of porous macadam and dense aggregate rock and then, finally, the Polytrack itself.Del Mar's 68th racing season is scheduled from July 18 to Sept. 5, 2007.A five-member panel consisting of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, DMTC director Rollin Baugh and three members of the 22nd District Agricultural Association -- president Russ Penniman, director Doug Barnhart and general manager Tim Fennell -- made the Polytrack selection.
"We are honored that Del Mar, known for its high standards and outstanding racing, has selected Polytrack," said Keeneland president and CEO Nick Nicholson. "Del Mar is one of Thoroughbred racing's finest venues and it deserves the best. Joe Harper and the entire Del Mar team are committed to the safety of riders and horses and we are looking forward to working with them to build a racing surface that fosters both safety and thrilling competition." Currently, Hollywood Park is the only track in California racing on an engineered track. The Inglewood plant chose Cushion Track for its main track.