09/02/2007 11:00PM

Track set for top layer of new strip


The new Tapeta synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields is scheduled to be installed next week, with the track expected to open for training Oct. 6, 10 days earlier than originally projected, according to the track's general manager, Robert Hartman. The fall meet begins Nov. 7.

Before Golden Gate opens for training, several trainers have been invited to train horses over the track to see if it needs any tweaking.

The 16,000 tons of material that will make up the synthetic track is scheduled for delivery later this week, Hartman said.

"It couldn't have gone better," said Hartman, who went on to praise the company that is preparing the track and installing the Tapeta, O.C. Jones and Sons.

"They haven't missed a beat, and the city of Albany has worked closely with us."

Right now, there is a six-inch deep subsurface that includes 1 1/2 inches of stones for draining. The subsurface has been covered by two inches of porous asphalt.

"The track looks like the Indy 500 right now," Hartman said.

An eight-inch depth of the Tapeta surface will be spread around the one-mile track. It is expected the material will compress to seven inches.

Some minor changes were made in the construction of the drainage system to ensure that waste water will be filtered properly before it reaches nearby creek beds and San Francisco Bay. The drainage system was modified to resemble a herringbone pattern rather than simply having drainage outlets at each sixteenth of a mile around the track. Water will be filtered into a bio-swale - a ditch inside the turf course where water can be filtered organically.

"This was one of the big concerns by the city and environmental groups," Hartman said. "We worked closely with an hydrologist, and the city hired peer experts to review everything."

Trainer Michael Dickinson, who created the Tapeta surface, and his representatives will be on hand when the surface is installed and will remain at Golden Gate after racing begins.

The Tapeta surface is 53 percent sand and 5 percent rubber, along with carpet fibers and other ingredients Dickinson labels "secret." He spent four years developing the surface, which is used at his Maryland training center and the new Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa.

Hartman and other representatives from Golden Gate attended the opening of Presque Isle over the weekend to watch the first races run on the Tapeta surface.

Hartman said the weather conditions at Golden Gate, located next to San Francisco Bay, don't show the extremes present at some tracks in the state. He hopes that will help keep the surface consistent.

He said that Golden Gate Fields used 30 million gallons of water keeping up the track's dirt surface last year and said projections are that installation of the synthetic surface will save 20 million gallons of water.

In addition to the resurfacing of the main track, Golden Gate Fields has spent more than $1 million renovating its barn area.

"We know with the possibility of Bay Meadows closing that we will become the primary track in Northern California," Hartman said. "We tried to do a lot because I don't know the next time we'll have a chance to close the barn area."