08/19/2014 6:59PM

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.