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Turfway shows off Polytrack in exhibition races

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 12:00 AM
  • General
Corrected releaseFLORENCE, KY . . . August 24, 2005 . . . Turfway Park showed off its brand-new Polytrack surface Wednesday morning, staging three exhibition races for members of the media, industry leaders, community representatives, and horsemen. First across the finish line in the first mock contest was Tommy Panache, an officially unraced two-year-old trained by Wayne Mogge and ridden by veteran jockey Jeff Johnston. The colt led gate to wire to win by a couple of lengths, finishing the five furlongs for two year olds in 1:03 1/5. Boundary Queen, trained by David England and ridden by Nathan Solomon, closed fast to earn second place. Arden Way was third.

Early speed played out again in the second and third races, opposite the experience of Lingfield Park and Wolverhampton Race Course in England, where closers predominated after Polytrack systems were newly installed in 2001 and 2004, respectively. Those tracks settled quickly under regular racing to provide the virtually bias-free surface that is Polytrack’s hallmark, and the same is expected to occur at Turfway.Those tracks settled quickly under regular racing to provide the virtually bias-free surface that is Polytrack’s hallmark, and the same is expected to occur at Turfway.

True Course won the second race, also for two year olds going five furlongs, in an identical 1:03 1/5 for trainer Joe Davis and jockey Mathieu Adam. The third race, five furlongs for horses three years old and up, was taken by Speed Gun in 1:00 4/5 for trainer Reid Gross and jockey Nathan Solomon. Now seven years old, Speed Gun has earned $272,166 in his career, 83 percent in turf races.

Highlighting the breakfast meeting before the races were comments by Martin Collins, inventor of the Polytrack system, and a conversation with British handicapper James Willoughby, a journalist with the Racing Post and analyst with the cable and satellite channel Racing U.K. Speaking by telephone, Willoughby shared his knowledge of Polytrack racing at Wolverhampton and Lingfield as well as his expectations for U.S. races on the surface.

Willoughby’s comments Wednesday echoed an earlier written report he provided to Keeneland and Turfway officials. “Though the potential for local differences exists, Polytrack racing in the U.S. is likely to be fast-paced and exciting, with more runners in contention in the stretch than is typical on dirt,” he wrote. “There is likely to be a crossover of runners between dirt and turf, which will provide for more competitive races at conditions levels. . . . It is my educated guess that Polytrack should prove the future for U.S. racetracks.”

Mike Battaglia, Turfway Park’s longtime track announcer and handicapper, announced that Beyer Speed Figures for Turfway’s Fall Meet will be calculated personally by Andy Beyer, who created the formula for comparing horses’ performances across various tracks and conditions. Track president Robert Elliston reported that Equibase, the racing industry’s official database, has closed Turfway Park’s track records and will begin keeping new records with the Fall Meet. Elliston also noted that Equibase will have two descriptions for the Polytrack surface: fast or wet-fast. “What you won’t see at Turfway,” he said, “is a muddy or sloppy track.”

Turfway Park opens for live racing September 7. The Fall Meet continues through October 6.

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