Javier Barajas, a veteran trackman with international experience managing dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces, has been named track superintendent for Keeneland, officials at the Lexington oval announced Aug. 5.
Barajas brings 38 years of expertise in racetrack installation and maintenance to his position at Keeneland. Since 2009 he has held the position of track superintendent for the Dubai Racing Club, overseeing the care of Meydan Racecourse, home of the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), as well as its associated training facilities. Barajas also serves as track superintendent for Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN, which features a dirt track and turf course.
He will continue to serve as track superintendent at Canterbury Park until the conclusion of its race meet in mid-September.
Barajas honed his skill working in a number of capacities on the track and turf course crews at Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago beginning in 1976. In 1996, he was promoted to track superintendent at Arlington, a position he held for 13 years. During his tenure, he managed the main dirt track and turf course, and later oversaw installation of the synthetic Polytrack surface.
"Javier is internationally respected in his field, and he shares Keeneland's commitment to providing the safest surface possible for our horses and riders," said Keeneland's vice president of racing, Rogers Beasley. "His vast experience with dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces will be a key asset to caring for Keeneland's various racing and training tracks."
Keeneland is nearing completion of the conversion of its 1 1/16-mile main track from synthetic Polytrack to a dirt surface. Barajas will supervise the maintenance of the new dirt track, as well as Keeneland's seven-furlong turf course and five-furlong synthetic training track.
Keeneland will welcome an international contingent of horsemen in 2015 when the track hosts the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
"I've been fortunate in my career to work for several premier tracks, and Keeneland ranks at the top," Barajas said. "I'm excited by the opportunity, and I can't wait to get started."
Barajas, 51, lives in Palatine, IL, with his wife, Sylvia, his son Roberto and daughter, Elizabeth.