The Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., plans to install the Tapeta all weather surface on its training track during the summer of 2006,it announced May 31. The synthetic surface, designed by trainer Michael Dickinson and first used at his seven-furlong track in Maryland, Tapeta Farm, in 1998, replaces the wood chips currently in use on the training oval at Fair Hill. Dickinson recently began marketing his product, which is a wax-coated mixture of sand, rubber and fibers.Sally Goswell, Fair Hill's manager, said the wood chip surface has served the facility well, but it freezes in the winter.
"Training is difficult even during the mildest winters," Goswell said. "Track conditions are impacted directly by the weather making it extremely costly to keep the dirt track open and virtually impossible to have a consistent surface on a daily basis. "We have been watching with growing interest the advent of all weather surfaces in this country (because) they are not affected by adverse weather conditions and do not freeze in the winter thus providing uniform track conditions every day. Having done due diligence, we are confident that Tapeta is the best synthetic surface available to meet our needs from both a safety perspective and maintenance perspective."Fair Hill, opened in 1982, was the juvenile home to Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, who also stabled there between the Derby and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).