04/03/2007 12:00AM

Arlington adding second finish line

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Arlington Park, in the process of installing a new synthetic Polytrack racing surface, will also have an additional finish line at the sixteenth pole when its 2007 meet begins early next month.

The second finish line will allow the track to card races at 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic surface. Such races will start at the normal finish line and end at the sixteenth pole.

Keeneland is the most prominent track that already cards 1o1/16-mile races that end at the sixteenth pole. Other tracks such as Fair Grounds and Oaklawn card one-mile races that utilize a short stretch run.

Arlington has experimented with races carded at about 1o1/16 miles on the main track. To run the exact distance using the regular finish line, a race has to start virtually on the clubhouse turn, but even using the "about" distance places the starting gate too close to the turn to give outside-drawn horses a fair chance.

Since that experiment, Arlington has carded two-turn main track races at a minimum of nine furlongs, and many horsemen have resisted running their stock at that longer trip. The result has been a glut of main-track races run at one mile around one turn, and the new finish line should do much to alleviate that trend.