08/19/2014 5:59PM

Woodbine considers changing surface of main track

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – In a memo to horsemen, Steve Koch, vice president of Thoroughbred racing for Woodbine Entertainment Group, said improvements would be made to the main-track surface at Woodbine in September.

“WEG management has engaged the expertise of Tapeta Footings to identify strategies for improving the track cushion,” Koch wrote. “We are planning significant investment in the Polytrack for this September that should generally improve performance.”

Woodbine installed the current Polytrack synthetic surface in the summer of 2006.

Koch said the improvements to the main track would be completed on dark days and should not affect the training and racing schedule.

According to Koch, WEG also is analyzing the main-track surface and considering long-term alternatives. The three options being considered include maintaining the existing surface, replacing it with a new synthetic surface, or removing the Polytrack and installing a dirt surface.

“WEG is targeting this fall or winter to make a decision on the future of the main track,” Koch said. “However, WEG anticipates that a new surface, if that is the chosen option, cannot be installed ahead of the 2015 racing season.”

Koch said Woodbine is consulting with synthetic innovators for recommendations and is analyzing new surfaces.

Keeneland is replacing its Polytrack surface with a dirt track in time for its fall meet, Del Mar plans to do the same next year, and Santa Anita now races on dirt after having used several synthetic surfaces.

“WEG management has made multiple trips to Keeneland, keeping a close eye on the installion of its new dirt surface in particular,” Koch said.

ken n More than 1 year ago
Con artist running the place
Justin Time More than 1 year ago
Reading John Murray's observations one must wonder at the gulliblity of such an individual or is he one of the blessed few who are within the realm of WEG living off the generosity of the Ontario Tax payers.
Lawrence Michalets More than 1 year ago
do what is best for the horses
John Murray More than 1 year ago
Why is WEG looking at making improvements? Woodbine management, trainers, jockeys staff and media people are all first class. When safety to horses and jocks could be improved, you went with Poly the right thing to do. I appreciate the vision,goals and ethics throughout the Woodbine product. Kudos to Jim Bannon, Dawn Lupul; and Bratt. We rarely hear of problems with medication and other issues common to many tracks. So now to improve the main track, you are considering dirt, via Tapeta. At a time when Woodbine is the safest major track in NA by a clear margin for break-downs The future justification of this will be articles produced to detract from Poly, and/or Tapeta over the next year, plus positive comments from other dirt tracks justifying their self serving decisions to switch. Eventually you will resort to quoting some leading trainers, jocks, or the HBPA who may support dirt. "Horses were made to run on dirt, always have, always will". The research indicates that artificial is much safer. End of using the word "experiment" folks. Artificial is a successful safer product. Improve it if you wish. God forbid that you suffer a surface switch fiasco like Del Mar with PETA witnessing such disasterous, unacceptable consequences. Your racing management is much too adept for that to happen. To the Board of Directors at WEG, "Safety first! "It's all about the Horse" . Your past performance has been of the highest quality, please justify my faith in you and keep it so! Lead don't follow Keeneland, California! Keep it Safe and keep true to the Horses!
Linda Lee More than 1 year ago
Well said John, Woodbine is my number one track, I'm with you 100%.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Bang on John. We have a great product up here, and I am pro Synthetics, so Let's Go WEG do the right thing by the horse. I said below that there werre complaints about the current surface in regards to texture, and smell, but you can't ignore the safety stats, and if people want a good opinion on the Poly at Woodbine, go to Bloodhorse, and check the archives when they spoke on a podcast with Mark casse after the Plate, and hated the idea of poly, but also said that he know loves it because it keeps his horses safer.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Wow I can't spell... Casse said he hated the idea of Poly, but since the first seaso they installed it, he now loves it, as it keeps his horses safe, and he knows the stats also. He is also aware that some soft tissue injuries do happen, but at the expense of Breakdowns, he is fine with it.
mrbelmont More than 1 year ago
fatal break downs no, but way to many injuries that are not reported. most trainers i talk to there liked the old dirt much better
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Wrong. injuries are reported. They are different types of injuries. This doesn't mean there is more.... just different kinds
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Ya probably the same trainers who have a 2% win percentage since the switch. Tell Ian Black to shut his pie hole.
Keith Murphy More than 1 year ago
Just a comment ... I don't see the kick back on Tapeta that I see on other synthetic surfaces ... most pronounced at Turfway Park. I often wonder how the horses behind manage to keep running there. Tapeta ? I can't see any kick back. Anyone have anything to add here?
Laura More than 1 year ago
I hope I'm wrong, but I worry we'll see a flood of cancers in horses and humans who worked daily on these synthetic surfaces, from ingesting and inhaling it the body knows how to deal with inhaled/ingested dirt, even manure, it can isolate and attack and rid itself of it, but wax, rubber & carpet fibers? not so much
Hail No More than 1 year ago
I certainly share your concerns. Filters supposedly made cigs "safer". But, I hope synth is not totally abandoned, perfect it, I'm aware of the "other" injuries associated with synth, but I don't think it should be given up on, especially to just appease the Breeders Cup.
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
I agree with your assessment, it must have something to do with the compisition of each individual poly surface. Why? I do not know. Maybe the track at turfway is looser, and therefore more likely to be kicked back?
Krish-james Sankar More than 1 year ago
isabella, you dont know what your talking about... poly is the worst thing to ever happen to racing, dont believe what you hear about poly. its awful... noone ever talks about the soft tissue/muscle damage it causes horses...
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Those injuries are better than death aren't they. Oh injuries as a whole have not increased, they are just different types now. life loss is the only stat that differs
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
i hear alot about Soft tissue injuries...but yet MANY trainers train over the Poly training tracks when available because it is easier on the horse.
Anita Harper More than 1 year ago
I am from Cadiz, Kentucky.  I saw on Facebook that Emily Champion's aunt is trying to reach you.  I'm assuming you were friends with Emily?
Lisa More than 1 year ago
Thanks Anita.  Krish-James Sankar knows and knows why.

Thorobred Racing More than 1 year ago
That's it defend the indefensible.through moderation and continue obscuring the truth for the sake of a few corrupt WEG executives that should be in jail.
Isabella de Canook More than 1 year ago
I sure hope they don't go to dirt. This is the only track I play and the surface is kinder to horses.
mrbelmont More than 1 year ago
NO WAY
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
Yes way! And why the caps lock? She has these things called "stats" which prove her point. What do you have? What is even your point?
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Go to dirt. If they do, their handle will go up.
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Handle is huge already,
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
They will lose mine, I love betting their poly track.
DeadHeat46 More than 1 year ago
the Tapeta at The Tapeta at According to HPBA officials in Pennsylvania, the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle has the lowest breakdown rate of any track in the country. Woodbine horses would benefit from the switch.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
Agreed and right next to Presque Isle for best safety record is Woodbine, both well ahead of all major NA tracks in reduced fatal breakdowns. Remember "It's all about the Horse". Perhaps Koch's statement is the trial balloon on returning to dirt, to increase the handle, not about safety. Statistics don't lie.