Updated on 09/16/2011 8:39AM

Palm Meadows ready, if rough


BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Workmen may still be tightening the last nuts and bolts or laying down the final pieces of sod around the barns when the first vans arrive, but Palm Meadows, Magna Entertainment Corportation's state-of-the-art training facility, will open as scheduled on Friday, Nov. 29.

Palm Meadows is located in Boynton Beach, Fla., approximately 45 minutes north of Gulfstream Park. All 750 stalls available this winter have been allotted. Among the trainers who have been given stall space at Palm Meadows during the 2003 Gulfstream meeting, which opens Jan. 3, are Todd Pletcher, Nick Zito, Steve Asmussen, H. James Bond, Stanley Hough, Rick Violette, Angel Penna Jr., and Barclay Tagg.

"We're cutting it down right to the end but we'll have this facility ready and open for business the day after Thanksgiving," said Palm Meadows's general manager Gary Van Der Brock. "The place will not be picture-perfect on the outside when we open, but everything inside the stable area, including the racetrack, will be ready."

Van Der Brock said construction crews have been working from sunup to sundown, seven days a week, and will continue on a that schedule right up until the opening. As of Friday, all 24 barns that will be occupied this winter were nearly complete. The shells for an additional 16 barns are standing but will not be ready until the following season.

The base and cushion for the 1 1/8-mile main track is down and the rails are up. Ted Malloy, who served 10 years as Gulfstream Park's track superintendent, was out working the new surface with his crew on Friday.

"The major work on the track will be done by next week," said Malloy. "The surface is in. We just have to add some clay and then it's simply a matter of mixing it all in. I've tried to make the track similar to but not completely like Gulfstream. The cushion is a little deeper here, four inches as compared to 3 3/4 inches at Gulfstream. The best part about this track is that the turns are wider and kinder on a horse. The radius of the turns is 527 feet, while the track itself is 100 feet wide on the turn, compared to 80 feet at Gulfstream. When this place is finished it's going to be the ultimate training center."

As with any new project there will be plenty of kinks to be worked out, and horsemen stabling at Palm Meadows should be prepared to deal with more than a few inconveniences throughout the winter.

There will be no dormitories or track kitchen on site the first season. To house grooms and hotwalkers, Magna has rented a motel located approximately 10 miles from Palm Meadows and will bus workers to and from the track each day. Two food trucks will be on the grounds to provide breakfast and lunch daily.

Parking and tack-room space will also be at a premium. Each barn contains only one office, one rest room, and two tack rooms, which could create problems in barns housing three or four different stables. Parking will be provided for only three cars at each barn.

"Like any new facility that is fast-tracked to open, there are going to be some problems," said Van Der Brock. "Don't forget we didn't even begin clearing the land for this place until February, dig the first footage until June, or start on the barns until July 10th. But we have been making tremendous strides on the property each day and all the basics to operate, including the shuttle service for the grooms and the food trucks, are in place."