11/15/2006 1:00AM

Cooler weather affects Polytrack


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Since it opened Aug. 30, Woodbine's all-weather track has proven to be relatively fair in the way it has played, but there have been some days when a noticeable bias was in existence.

The week of Nov. 1-5 was a trying time for the synthetic surface. The weather cooled off and the track got looser, producing very high and thick kickback, which gave speed horses an advantage.

Irwin Driedger, Woodbine's manager of racing surfaces, said there was a problem with the wax in the Polytrack.

"The wax was not holding the fiber together, because of the cold," Driedger said. "The wax seemed somewhat dormant, and the lightest of the material in the Polytrack was on top. The track got a lot looser than it was, and there was dust coming off of it. Whenever you did [maintenance], the lighter material went to the top. You could try to put it underneath, but it just came back up.

"It's similar to what Turfway had last winter," Driedger added. "There's a little more kickback here than what they had. There was something similar last year in England as well. It might be something that we're going to have to live through. It tightens up when it rains, which is better, but it's pretty risky putting water into it at this time of year."

Driedger said he believes there has not been an all-weather track which has had the number of horses on it as Woodbine's, and he said that large volume of traffic has taken its toll on the surface.

"For the first month, everybody was out there," Driedger recalled. "There had to be 1,500 horses on it every day. There were days when we had 200 workers on it, but since November has rolled around, people aren't training as much. The track is better in the chutes, where there's less traffic. They haven't ripped it apart like they have on the main track."

Front-runners won seven of the 10 races Nov. 2. Those who prevailed after running against the bias were Blonde Wisdom, Purple Power, and Arch Hall, who took the Bunty Lawless Stakes with an eye-catching inside rally.

Others who ran well against the bias Nov. 2 were Yah Tee, Jacknows, Estevan, Bold Cru, C'Mon Sweetheart, Pectoralis Major, and Wager's Treasure.

Front-runners and stalkers dominated the results Nov. 3. Closers who made some headway then were It's Like This, D Bold Ruler, Suvorov, Well Whoopdeedoo, Celebrate, Sweetdetermination, No Kissing, Malibu Monster, Dutch Beauty, and Seeyounexttuesday.

Handicappers should anticipate some sort of speed bias whenever the kickback is higher and thicker than normal.

Avoid outside horses in routes

Outside posts in the two-turn races on the Polytrack have fared poorly. Through last Sunday, posts 8-14 produced 16 route winners from 283 starters, and posts 12-14 yielded just one route winner from 28 starters.

The first two finishers in the Nov.o5 Coronation Futurity, Leonnatus Anteas, and Marchfield, took the long way home after breaking from posts 11 and 10, respectively. Both look like major contenders for next year's $1 million Queen's Plate.

Keeneland shippers run poorly

Cambridge Belle and Soul Search were both well-beaten favorites here last Saturday after shipping in from Kentucky, where each had performed very well in their previous start over Keeneland's new Polytrack.

Interestingly, both Hide and Chic and Vestrey Lady finished second at long odds in graded stakes company at Keeneland in October, after winning a stakes at Woodbine.

Judging by these results, it appears as though horses going from a fresh, new Polytrack, like the one at Keeneland, to Woodbine's worn-down version are at a disadvantage.