03/05/2004 1:00AM

Kempton Park to have dirt track

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Kempton Park has announced plans to install an all-weather track with hopes for a Jan. 1, 2006 opening.

The 127-year-old racecourse, located 18 miles south of London, will become the fifth track in Britain to have a dirt course, joining nearby Lingfield Park as well as Southwell and Wolverhampton. Newmarket plans to open its own straight, all-weather track next year.

The Kempton dirt track will be employed year-round and will replace the flat turf course. Thus, the Group 3, 1 1/2-mile September Stakes is slated to become the first group race to be run on dirt in Europe.