10/21/2011 2:00PM

Keeneland maintenance crew tries to slightly slow down Polytrack

Keeneland/Coady Photography
The 2-year-old filly Applauding sets a six-furlong track record of 1:07.76 at Keeneland on Oct. 14.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Three more track records were lowered Thursday on the Polytrack at Keeneland, leading officials to loosen the surface slightly the next morning while insisting it remains safe and consistent.

In all, Polytrack records were set at five different distances during a period of five racing days (Oct. 14-20), including the 1 1/16-mile mark of 1:41.61 by Baby Afleet, a $10,000 claimer, in the last race Thursday. The first record was set when Applauding, a 2-year-old filly making her career debut, ran six furlongs in an eye-popping 1:07.76 in winning by nine lengths on Oct. 14.

“We’re always monitoring the surface, always keeping very close tabs,” said Keeneland director of racing Rogers Beasley, noting the harrow depth for grooming the Polytrack was deepened Friday morning from 4 to 4 1/2 inches.

“I’ve talked to many horsemen and jockeys – I mean a lot of them – and they’re all satisfied with how it’s playing,” said Beasley. “We did loosen it up just a touch, because obviously what’s happening isn’t normal. What you don’t want to do is something too drastic, because that could endanger what the horses and riders have become accustomed to. The bottom line is we’re always open to feedback and want to do what’s right for the horsemen and the good of the game.”

Race times overall have been faster than normal for much of the meet, with Keeneland clockers and Mark Skaggs, the official timer for American Teletimer, theorizing that weather conditions have led to the surface being tighter than usual. Three of the records came at distances that aren’t run all that often anyway: Newsdad won Wednesday in 2:00.61 for 1 1/4 miles; Sanagas won at 1 5/8 miles in 2:39.40; and a well regarded maiden, Hammers Terror, won in 1:24.31 at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet.

The first two races Friday, both on Poly, did not threaten any records, with Lucky Dragon winning the 1 1/16-mile opener in 1:45.13, and Bizzee Mizzee taking the second at seven furlongs in 1:22.71

These are the Beyer Speed Figures earned by the record setters: Applauding, 92; Newsdad, 89; Hammers Terror, 78; Sanagas, 92; and Baby Afleet, 81.

Keeneland began using Polytrack as its main surface at the 2006 fall meet.