Del Mar Cancels Training Due to Surface Issue

Del Mar canceled training on its main track the morning of July 22, when it was determined that there had been some separation of its Polytrack materials in the stretch area that caused some inconsistencies in the surface makeup.

The Southern California racetrack, which began its summer meet July 21, expected a full racing card at its usual 2 p.m. PDT start despite the problems.

A handful of horses had galloped or exercised on the track following its usual opening at 4:30 a.m. When the apparent inconsistencies were noted to track officials--and following consultations with the track's outriders and track superintendent Richard Tedesco--the decision was made to close the track and immediately perform additional procedures planned for July 26, rather than attempt to quickly reopen it for further training. No injuries to any horses were reported.

"We are taking a cautious path here and leaning strongly on the side of safety," said track president and general manager Craig Fravel.

Track crews had scheduled a full rototilling procedure for July 26 following the conclusion of the first week of racing. That procedure was moved up to Thursday morning to return the track to its proper balance.

New maintenance procedures put in place this summer by Tedesco had seen his crews perform a procedure called power harrowing each morning from 1 to 3 a.m., in which the track's top surface was turned over and loosened to ensure consistency for training each morning. The power harrowing had started July 10 and gone on for 12 days through Thursday morning.

"We believed we wouldn't need to get in and do our rototilling until this coming Monday (July 26)," Fravel said in a release, "but now it appears we overestimated how long we could go without turning the track fully over. We'll rototill this morning (Thursday) and be back on schedule in time to race today."

In the rototilling procedure, equipment that digs deeper into the track materials is used to totally remix its various elements, which are primarily sand, fiber, rubber, and wax. The remixed matter is then fluffed and smoothed by other equipment to give the track its consistency.

(This article first appeared on

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