05/14/2014 8:39AM

Meydan to replace Tapeta surface with dirt

Andrew Watkins
Animal Kingdom, shown winning the 2013 Dubai World Cup, is one of just two U.S. runners to win races on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface at Meydan.

Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, home of the $10 million Dubai World Cup, will replace its Tapeta Footings synthetic main track with a dirt track before the start of its 2014-15 racing season late this year.

The surface switch, loudly rumored since the week of the March 29 Dubai World Cup, was made public in a release Wednesday from the board of directors of The Meydan Group.

"This is a decision that will be best for the future of Meydan racing and the Dubai World Cup Carnival. In the coming year we will celebrate the 20th running of the Dubai World Cup, and the track will be the natural surface that proved so successful during the first 14 years of this magnificent race day,” Meydan Group chairman and CEO Saeed Al Thayer said in the release.

The synthetic surface at the palatial Meydan track proved popular with European and Asian horsemen, but increasingly was shunned by the North American participants that had been so heavily involved beginning with Cigar’s victory in the inaugural 1996 World Cup. A U.S.-based runner won the World Cup eight times on the dirt track at Nad al Sheba, but not a single horse shipped from North America for this year’s edition of the $10 million race, and only two American-based horses competed on the entire World Cup program this year.

Synthetic surfaces like Tapeta tend to play more like turf than dirt, and the synthetic track at Meydan tipped the balance of power in Dubai toward horses in Europe and Asia. Only two U.S. runners, including Animal Kingdom in the 2013 World Cup, won synthetic races at Meydan, and a U.S.-based horse never has won a turf race on a Dubai World Cup card.

russell More than 1 year ago
About time. Another synth track bites the dust.
martymar . More than 1 year ago
Some quotes from British Racing Site "If ''dirt'' is a natural and safe racing surface why does America allow medication to be administered to competing horses enabling them to cope with the pain inflicted by racing on such surfaces?" "I am sort of happy with this in a perverse way, now I can concentrate on the turf racing during the Meyday Carnival and ignore the inferior non turf racing which was never that interesting anyway. "
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
To that I say,..... Whatevs! This revsersal (Synth to Dirt) clearly sends a message. AMERICAN'S ARE NEEDED AT THEIR CARNIVAL! Why? They own breeding farms here. Horses bred on their farms and not under their control should be showcasing their abilities at Meydan. It makes PERFECT business sense to attract dirt horses REGARDLESS of that the Euros et al think! ;-) End of Story!!!
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
If you guys thought the Breeders Cup Marathon drew low quality horses, ie..Allowance horses, or at best G3 horses, what will make the World cup any different?...One good horse vs over matche horses. You wait and see.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
So they will bend over to thee USA horsemen and switch back to dirt...so the World cup is now a USA dominated race. WOW how exciting. That will be one race I will have no interest in. Nothing better then watching one top USA horse dominate a bunch of horses coming from the lingfield all weather....
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
No problem. We'll have fun in your absence! We'll keep a light on for you courtesy of Tom Bodet! ;-)
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
YES!...Death to synthetics!
MICHAEL More than 1 year ago
why? NA horses are basically sprinters and milers. It will just favor the dirt thoroughbreds from Japan.
. More than 1 year ago
Yeah baby! Synthetic races are slow, and boring.. Dirt is the best racing. yeah , it's a harder surface, so pick and choose do you want people to bet or not? We're not betting synthetic!!!!!!!!! . Get that in your head, I bet Keeneland once a year., seldom play Delmar ,Arlington I'll go fishing instead . No dirt racing then each track that has turf runs 3-4 weeks a year or just shut down all the big dirt venues and run Radnor, Malvern Hiunts and Fair hill races twice a year..
Paul More than 1 year ago
Really? This is news? This was expected for years. They want us based horses.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
North American-based horses are not going to be competitive anywhere outside their own drug-infested domain, regardless of the surface, until international medication standards comparable to Europe, Dubai, Japan and Australia are mandated in the USA and Canada. Just look at Game on Dude...tailed off in Dubai...a hero in California! Pathetic.
. More than 1 year ago
I know Canada has tougher standards, not so sure about the rest. especially Japan, with so many big purse races, nobody''s cheating? right. Unless you know the test criteria I have doubts they are better.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Robin. Usually I agree with your morals and logic. But you need to visit these venues YOU have exemplified. They have unique techniques themselves regarding drug use. I believe we'll see American horses run very well with the surface switch.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
No kidding they will run very well, who else runs on dirt?, allowance Dirt horses from Japan, and ?...Norway?, Turkey?....come on.
Steven Simonovic More than 1 year ago
Robin, Game on Dude got crushed in the Breeders Cup on his home track on dirt, what's your point?
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
I worked in European racing for 12 years and have been racing in Dubai, Hong Kong and Japan. So I know what's going on.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
My point is that, when he was highly-regarded and actually started one of the favourites in the Dubai World Cup, he finished a quarter of a mile behind the field.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
I think the lack of N.A. Runners has more to do with our mediocre racing. We don't have horse that can compete with Asia and Europe.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Really? How many dirt wins do the Eur's and Asians have in the Breeder's Cup races? It's just a matter of what we prefer and they prefer to breed to.