02/16/2006 12:00AM

California board urges Polytrack

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California's major Thoroughbred tracks have less than two years to install a synthetic racing surface or risk losing racing dates, according to a motion passed on Thursday by the California Horse Racing Board.

After listening to a 30-minute presentation on the synthetic surface Polytrack from Del Mar vice president Craig Fravel and impassioned pleas for safer surfaces by trainers Howard Zucker and Richard Mandella, the racing board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, introduced a motion saying "as a condition of license, any Thoroughbred track that offers a minimum of four continuous weeks of Thoroughbred racing must install a synthetic surface or Polytrack by Dec. 31, 2007 or lose their dates."

The motion was unanimously approved by the board, and was met with no resistance from racetrack executives. Later, Hollywood Park's president, Jack Liebau, said he was surprised by the board's decision and said that the board "should go a little slower."

The board's motion must face a 45-day comment period before any further action is taken.

Polytrack has been installed at Turfway Park and the Keeneland training track in Kentucky and has been well received by horsemen.