Hollywood Park to Install Synthetic Surface

(from Hollywood Park report)
Hollywood Park expects to be the first California racetrack to run on a synthetic-racing surface. The Inglewood facility announced June 21 that it will begin work with Equestrian Surfaces of the United Kingdom to replace the existing main track at the conclusion of the spring/summer meet on July 16.

Known as "Cushion Track," the surface will be in place when the stable area re-opens in September. With the start of the 36-day fall meet on Nov. 1, Hollywood Park would become the first California track to conduct races on a synthetic surface. The track will also have a new specially designed drainage system.

Equestrian Surfaces has been manufacturing synthetic surfaces for horses in the United Kingdom for more than 20 years and has been involved in projects in Europe, Scandinavia, Dubai, and the United States.

Cushion Track is a waxed synthetic surface manufactured from a combination of synthetic fibers, elastic fiber and granulated rubber – all coated with a specially formulated blend of wax.

"It provides a safer footing than conventional footings, reducing injuries and prolonging the competitive life of the horse," said Equestrian Surfaces executive Philip Bond. "It is with great enthusiasm that we embark on this project, which we are confident will make a significant contribution to the racing industry in California."

Jack Liebau, president of Hollywood Park, has headed up a project to shift to a synthetic surface since the Bay Meadows Land Company purchased the track last September. Liebau and several Hollywood Park officials made two fact-finding trips to England, multiple trips to Kentucky and the East Coast to look at various types of wax-coated synthetic surfaces before deciding on Cushion Track. The cost will be in the neighborhood of $8 million.

"This investment in a new racing surface is consistent with our intention that Hollywood Park be operated on the basis live racing will continue there indefinitely," said Terry Fancher, managing partner of Stockbridge Capital Partners, parent company of Bay Meadows Land Company. "The investment is a continuation of our efforts to improve the state of California racing."

The move follows a unanimous decision by the California Horse Racing Board May 25 mandating that the five major Thoroughbred tracks install synthetic racing surfaces by the conclusion of 2007.

At the conclusion of the Hollywood Park meeting, 12 inches of material will be removed from the existing track. A new drainage system consisting of more than 4 ½ miles of pipe will be installed. A porous base will be added over the drainage system, and a nine-inch top layer of Cushion Track will complete the project.