Wednesday, August 3, 2005 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . August 3, 2005 . . . Horses stepped onto Turfway Park’s new Polytrack surface for the first time Wednesday morning, with Kaylan’s Rose leading the way. Ridden by exercise rider Melanie Davies for trainer Wayne Mogge, the filly was the first of 49 horses who tried the Turfway surface on its first day of training. The Polytrack installation at Turfway is the first on a racing surface in North America. Keeneland installed the system on its 5/8-mile training track in September 2004.
Mogge is one of a handful of trainers who arrived from Keeneland on Monday, August 1, when Turfway opened its stable area in preparation for its 2005 Fall Meet. The track opened the stables about two weeks earlier than usual this year.
“Our crew was able to finish the Polytrack installation much earlier than expected, so we were able to give trainers who were able to come in that much more experience with the surface before the meet opens,” said Robert Elliston, Turfway Park president.
“We are especially excited about the increased safety that Polytrack promises for horses. Reports from Keeneland and from installations in England have been uniformly positive in that regard, and we expect to see similar results here.”
Wayne Mogge: “This track is similar to Keeneland’s. It’s very consistent.”
Rebecca McGee: “This is easy on the horses. Horses with shin problems—it’s easy on them. I’ll be interested to see how the track holds up with all the traffic of training plus racing, and the weather. We’ve had to cancel so many times [in previous winters]. This will be so much better.”
Mark Hubley: “I really look forward to racing on it. We trained on it at Keeneland and I really have no complaints. It’s very good. I think it will be great for two-year-olds; I think it’s great for all the horses, really. I think the times are going to be slower, but we’ve just been on the little track at Keeneland and that has really tight turns. We’ll breeze some horses tomorrow and see how they do. I’m all for it. I don’t have any questions or hesitations about running on it. I think other tracks, especially in colder climates, will probably end up putting it down too.”
Derek Galvin: “They rode great. You always wonder with a new track—will it take time to settle in? They rode perfect today. It’s very uniform all the way around. It’s just as good as Keeneland and that track has been down almost a year now. They did a great job putting this track down. It’s great to have the big track to train on.”
Janet Davidson: “I’m looking for good things. I think the track is great—absolutely superb. They have the real recipe now, as far as footing. When Keeneland put their neck on the line to be the guinea pig for everyone—which was a wonderful thing that they did that for everyone—they didn’t have all the ingredients. This is the real recipe and I can tell the difference from just stepping on it. I’m going to say there’s probably about 30 percent difference in the ‘give’ to it, which is a wonderful thing.
“For the horses, having the regulation-size track to work on is going to be very beneficial. Horses love routine, and in their minds they will actually memorize those turns as far as when it’s time to relax or it’s time to let go and head for the homestretch. You’re a little handicapped when you’re on a track that doesn’t allow you the privilege of working full scale.
“As far as the weather goes, you can’t beat it. I trained on the track down at Keeneland all through winter, into the spring, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining, snowing—I think I missed maybe three days in the wintertime and that was because it was 18 degrees outside.
“I see nothing but good. I anticipate the reviews on this are going to be absolutely outstanding from everyone once they try it and actually run on it, and I’ll be willing to bet that a lot of others follow suit.”
Work continues at the track on the remodeled paddock and winner’s circle, both of which will feature rubberized paving stones and new railings. Turfway Park’s Fall Meet begins September 7 and runs through October 6.