12/01/2014 12:48PM

Decision on Woodbine main track not likely until March

Michael Burns
The existing Polytrack surface still will be in place when the 2015 Woodbine meet kicks off in April.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – As the Woodbine meet enters its final week, Steve Koch, vice president of Thoroughbred racing for Woodbine Entertainment Group, said an analysis of the main-track surface is ongoing, and a decision on a potential surface change likely won’t be made until March.

“It’s still an open case,” he said. “All avenues are under full consideration.”

In August, Koch issued a memo to horsemen saying that Woodbine was considering three options for its main-track surface: maintaining the existing Polytrack surface, replacing the existing cushion with a new synthetic surface, or removing the Polytrack and installing a dirt surface.

As expected, Koch said horsemen’s feelings about the issue have been mixed.

“There’s horsemen that feel one way, and there’s horsemen that feel another way,” he said. “In my experience, there’s been very mixed but very strong reactions.”

Regardless of which way Woodbine decides to go, the existing Polytrack surface still will be in place when the 2015 Woodbine meet kicks off in April.

“I would not anticipate a new surface to open the meet in April 2015,” Koch said. “As far as whatever the decision is for the main track, [the installation process of a new surface] is part of the analysis. Does it compromise race dates and those other factors? All of that is an open book.”

Koch said Woodbine is still in discussions with the Ontario Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on the main track and is performing its own internal analysis.

Hail No More than 1 year ago
Is it possible that Woodbine could have a synth track and build a dirt track? I read a post that they thought they could construct another turf course, can it be done for a dirt track? I love Woodbine, 1st class, world class all the way, their synth track always played fair, and their turf course is one of the finest in the world. imo. I am sad to say, if they go back to dirt, it is to get the BC back again, a track more deserving as host for the event. (and I LOVE playing Woodbine)
martymar . More than 1 year ago
They do have a dirt track, they use it for Harness racing, when they were rebuilding the main track they ran races on it
Brian Duntugan More than 1 year ago
Go back 2 dirt in order 2 attract more American horseplayers & possibly bring in a future BC World Championships.
Just Watch More than 1 year ago
What is wrong with these Woodbine fools? Betting on the Woodbine main track races has been just barely above 'guessing' at the outcomes for many years now. Return to a consistent surface and maintain full fields and your handle will increase steadily in a world where only pockets of racing markets can say same. Woodbine has a unique 'barrier' in that many Canadian owners don't want to send horses to America so the best of the best Canadian horses head for Woodbine. To maintain the pointless 'guessing' atmosphere for those going to the windows there shall be an increasingly perilous journey. The safety stats on Polytrack races have never accounted for the fact that better horses run on tracks which can afford the high cost of new surfaces, and clearly better horses have fewer break-downs than do the cheap claimers at po-dunk tracks. So, when you tally the break-down stats at Keeneland, Del Mar, Hollywood, and Woodbine, of course you're going to have fewer breakdowns than you do at Sunland, Great Falls, Canterbury and Hazel Park. Now get rid of the moronic experiment that was synthetic surfaces and put that stupid move in the closet behind you along with Nasal Strips and all of the other moronic things you people have tried over the years. What the heck ever happened to the Tartan surface at Tropical Park anyway? Didn't you people learn a thing from that? While we're at it, what ever became of Tropical Park as a whole?? Do you see where this is headed, Woodbine? Now do it correctly!
Mel More than 1 year ago
Tropical Park Race Track was a horse racing facility built on 245 acres at the current intersection of Bird Road and the Palmetto Expressway in metropolitan Miami, Florida, in what is now Olympia Heights. In 1971, new owner William L. McKnight made his intentions known. He wanted to close the track, and have all of the racing dates switched to the new Calder Race Course, of which he was a principal investor. Tropical Park was closed after the 1972 racing season. In 1979, the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation service converted the facility into a public park they named Tropical Park. The park offers a number of sports activities including Tropical Park Stadium used for track and field athletics. The old racetrack's stables were used as part of the park's equestrian center.
Ken Wiener More than 1 year ago
The fatality statistics in favour of synthetics can't be refuted.
Lynda Simmons Cohen More than 1 year ago
If they don't opt for dirt, they will never get the Breeders Cup there. Most of North America are taking out Poly and going back to dirt.
Laura More than 1 year ago
at least the discussion is, 'what surface?', not 'open or closed?'
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I'm usually anti Poly big time. But, I have to say in Woodbine's case it seems to be the most consistent of the Poly out there and because of their severe weather I would say just keep it. I know, I know, those of you who know me ....know I'm very pro DIRT...but in this case let it be.....it's just fine.
Tommy Massis More than 1 year ago
severe weather? are climate is like nyc. its not the north pole or even buffalo
Chas More than 1 year ago
Nothing run with good old fashion dirt track provided the track is going to do it first rate like Keeneland did with a new drainage system and most important is to maintain the dirt like they do with the turf...it takes time and money to maintain these racing surfaces, but, it should be no different than what baseball and football teams do in maintaining their fields...level of maintenance should be no different for horses as it is for ball players...
petem More than 1 year ago
Huge mistake I'd goes back to dirt. They have a niche. I think it could be a game over type mistake. Curious to see what happens.
johnd More than 1 year ago
They don't have a "niche", they're isolated. They can have their own "circuit" with Arlington and PID. Phew! They really have no choice if they expect to be taken seriously by owners and trainers.
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
Lol, c'mon man, think just a little bit. Plenty of owners and trainers must take them seriously with the full fields they get. You don't see a ton of horses at the dirt track that is Fort Erie, so they are doing something right.
johnd More than 1 year ago
Understand what you're saying and, to a limited degree, it's correct. My point is these tracks will never have a permanent presence of the leading trainers from New York, Kentucky and California. By have the plastic track they have done what California did six years ago, to wit: it has effective isolated itself from the mainstream of racing. And THAT is the reason Del Mar went back to dirt, the powers to be in racing, especially the Breeders Cup people have, in effect, said "join the 2010s and get rid of the plastic.
Lynda Simmons Cohen More than 1 year ago
Exactly John and therefore, Woodbine will never get to have the Breeders Cup again.
Lynda Simmons Cohen More than 1 year ago
They have full fields now because everyone is rushing for Christmas money. The reason FE has smaller fields is because they cut down to 37 race days and for years nobody knew whether it was going to close or not so many trainers lost owners because they wanted a sure thing. And, the reason they have full fields is that there is only 2 TB tracks in Ontario and a lot of people don't have the money to cross the border to where there are so many tracks. So c'mon man, YOU think just a little bit.
petem More than 1 year ago
They are not getting the bc again no matter what. Take that to the bank.
petem More than 1 year ago
Keeneland went back to dirt the track was safe but handle and field size dropped by a large amount. Wake up. There are owners and trainers who like synthetic and there are those who don't. There is room for both, all dirt surfaces is a mistake especially if you have bad weather. Golden gate in .ca. would be bankrupt if they didn't have the Tapeta.