11/15/2006 1:00AM

Godolphin opens synthetic training track


Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing has installed a Tapeta artificial surface at the stable's Al Quoz training center in Dubai, according to Michael Dickinson, the American-based trainer whose company manufactures the surface.

The artificial surface was installed over the summer, and the track opened for training on Sunday, Dickinson said Wednesday.

"We're delighted and honored to be part of the operation, and hope it will have a positive result," Dickinson said.

Al Quoz is the headquarters for Godolphin's worldwide operations. The Godolphin horses also train over an artificial surface in England at the Newmarket training center.

Artificial surfaces - typically a mixture of wax-coated synthetic fibers and sand - are increasingly being installed at North American racetracks and training centers. The surfaces are considered to be safer for horses because of a softer concussive impact on their legs compared with traditional dirt surfaces.

Simon Crisford, the racing manager of Godolphin, said in a statement that the move toward artificial surfaces in the United States factored into Godolphin's decision to install the surface at Al Quoz. Artificial surfaces have so far been installed at Turfway Park, Keeneland Racecourse, Woodbine Racecourse, and Hollywood Park.

"The new Tapeta training track will obviously make it much easier for our runners to adapt when they go to the U.S. to race," Crisford said.