02/14/2007 12:00AM

Turfway cancels two days


Turfway Park canceled its Wednesday and Thursday programs, marking the sixth and seventh full or partial cancellations at the Florence, Ky., track since the winter-spring meet began Jan. 1.

Track president Bob Elliston said the cancellations were attributable to severe weather that made conditions unsafe for jockeys.

Weather.com reported at 3:30 p.m. Eastern that the temperature in Florence was 19 degrees, with a wind chill of 5 degrees. Similarly frigid temperatures were forecast for Thursday.

Racing was scheduled to resume on Friday at 5:30 p.m., and Turfway Park will now run a 10-race afternoon program on Monday, Presidents Day. The track was scheduled to be dark that day.

Elliston said that one of the cancellations this year was because of problems with the synthetic Polytrack surface at Turfway, but he said that was not the case with the Wednesday and Thursday cancellations.

"For some reason everyone is defaulting this into being an issue about the racing surface, but that's simply not the case," he said Wednesday. "If it had something to do with the track, we'd say so."

In September 2005, Turfway became the first North American track to employ Polytrack as its primary racing surface. The all-weather surface was chosen because it was supposed to eliminate the weather-related cancellations that had dogged Turfway, and there were no cancellations during the entire 2006 winter-spring meet. The surface is manufactured by Martin Collins International, which is partly owned by Keeneland, the co-owner and manager of Turfway.

According to some trainers and jockeys, Turfway has been experiencing some problems with the Polytrack after having tinkered with the ingredients last fall to reduce kickback and slightly quicken the surface. On Feb. 8, the track canceled after just two races when horsemen complained the surface was "balling up" in horses' hooves. Elliston said that was the only one of the seven cancellations this meet in which the condition of the surface was a factor.