Polytrack Reviewed After 18 Ambulance Runs at Turfway Park

Recent temperature drops have given officials at a northern Kentucky racetrack the opportunity to review how well Polytrack surface material handles cold weather, according to a Jan. 26 report in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The article reports that this analysis follows a series of 18 ambulance runs—injuries severe enough that the horse must be removed via equine ambulance from the track—at Turfway Park, in Florence, in the past three months.

The news report indicates that horsemen have noticed differences in the quality of the track recently, including a trend towards a hard surface and a tendency for the Polytrack material to "ball up" inside horses' hooves.

The Herald-Leader quotes Turfway Park CEO and President Bob Elliston as he discussed the racetrack's practical approach to maintaining the Polytrack surface. "We have to tailor the track maintenance to the weather and we rely on daily conversations with horsemen," Elliston said. "Over the last couple of weeks we have provided more cushion to try to respond to trainers' suggestions."

John Veitch, chief steward for the Kentucky Racing Authority, told the Herald-Leader, "In comparison to 2005 (before Polytrack was installed at Turfway), this is really an improvement. It's safer and we're racing under trying (winter weather) conditions here."

Polytrack is a multilayered racing surface that promotes vertical drainage to maintain uniform footing, even following inclement weather. The surface's top layer is comprised of silica sand, recycled fibers, and wax. This cushioning surface rests on aggregate and rock underlayers that allow drainage while providing a firm foundation.

Turfway Park converted its main track from a conventional dirt surface to the new synthetic footing in August 2005.

About the Author

Scot T. Gillies

Scot Gillies is Editor, Professional Products at Blood-Horse Publications. Outside of the office, he trail rides with his off-the-track gelding, breeds and races Thoroughbreds, and is a terrible handicapper, invariably losing money (but still having fun) at the racetrack. He is a former photo/newsletter editor for The Horse.

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