01/09/2008 12:00AM

Beulah speed bias removed

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The Beulah Park racing surface received a facelift of sorts during the two-week break between fall and winter racing. The inside speed bias that was apparent late in the fall meet, when the four inside horses and any horse with early speed that could get to the rail had to be considered in exotic wagers, appears to be gone. Quick times - six furlongs were routinely run in the 1:09 to 1:10 range last fall - are also gone. After the first two days of the winter meet, the fastest six-furlong time has been 1:15.03. Two maiden claiming races have gone in times over 1:18.

The off-season renovation entailed the most work and required the most material of any racing surface project here since the early 1990s, according to steward and track maintenance supervisor Joe Deluca.

"We removed the old racing surface, virtually down to the base, and replaced it with eight inches of new material, so the track has been completely redone," Deluca said. "It is a very forgiving surface, and when the track compacts over time, the race times will get faster. We have had very positive feedback from the horseman."

Deluca pretty much inherited the job of track superintendent.

"The jockeys kept coming to me when they didn't think things were right with the track, so I got involved and ended up with it," Deluca said.

Maintaining the track is very time consuming and labor intensive, and it is not uncommon when the weather is bad to see Deluca on the track between races, checking the surface and directing the crew, and then rushing back to the stewards' booth.

"The main goal is to keep everybody happy," he said.