Construction has begun at Aqueduct Racetrack to add a new turf course on what has been the facility's inner dirt track and to renovate the facility's main dirt track for winter racing, New York Racing Association officials said May 4.
NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna said the additional turf course is being added to "respond to the increasing demand of turf racing in North America.'' Winterizing the main track "makes sense logistically,'' he said, and NYRA expects it will provide more flexibility for different length races during the winter.
The cost of the project was not immediately available, but NYRA gets part of its funding for capital projects from revenues generated at the Resorts World Casino located at Aqueduct.
The main track, McKenna said, will be winterized with a limestone base to permit winter racing. It will take the place of the current inner track. The additional turf track will end up giving Aqueduct two turf tracks, resulting in additional turf racing opportunities in the spring and fall, the NYRA spokesman said.
The project is expected to boost NYRA's overall race field sizes thanks to the generally larger fields for grass races.
Word of the project comes less than a month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers approved a deal to return NYRA to private hands after a 2012 law that pushed the track corporation into a state government oversight period. The formal return to private hands has not yet occurred.
The track work is expected to be completed before training resumes at the track in September. Live racing begins again Nov. 3.
The new turf course will be a mile long and includes installation of a new irrigation system.
The Queens racetrack first opened in 1894. It opened its inner dirt track for winter racing in 1975.