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Polytrack lives up to its billing

Thursday, September 8, 2005 12:00 AM
  • General
Apprentice Minnock gets first career win
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 8, 2005 . . . Regal Reproach earned his place in Thoroughbred racing history and handicappers got their first look at Polytrack Wednesday night as Turfway Park unveiled its new racing surface on opening night of the Fall Meet. The track is the first in North America to use the all-weather surface for racing.

Regal Reproach earned a 1/2-length victory in the first race of the night, the one-mile Polytrack Starter, first closing himself and then holding off a furious late charge by runner-up He’s Awesome. On the Border was a length farther back in third. Off at 13-1, Regal Reproach finished the mile in 1:40.72 on a track rated fast. According to Equibase, the industry’s official database company, “fast” is the only designation Polytrack will carry.

Regal Reproach’s trainer, Eric Reed, described the experience in words echoed throughout the evening. “Horses really take to this surface,” he said. “Training on the Polytrack at Keeneland was a big advantage. The time was faster than I expected. He took hold a lot better than he did previously on dirt. I can run my horses more, which makes the owners happy, and I hope this ends up everywhere because it means that our horses are a lot sounder and happier.”

Even though the Polytrack surface is still settling after its completion last month, opening night kept the new material’s promise of virtually bias-free racing. Winners of the 10-race program on September 7 won by closing, stalking, coming from off the pace, holding an early lead, and leading gate to wire.

Early speed held most often at sprint distances, while closers and stalkers had the advantage in the one-mile contests, but generalities are not certainties; Two-year-old Scratchit broke his maiden in the one-mile eighth race with a gate-to- wire win, and two of the sprints went to horses lurking back of the early leader.

Apprentice jockey Brandon Minnock earned his first career victory in four starts in the seventh race, guiding Tres Copy to a front-running, 8 1/4 length win. Just 16, Minnock attends Oldham County High School, northeast of Louisville. “It was a great win,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be that easy. Dad [trainer Wayne Minnock] talked to me in the paddock before the race. I just followed his instructions. We have Polytrack on our farm, High Pointe Farm, in La Grange, [Kentucky]. I will be riding here [at Turfway] all winter, at night, since my dad tells me I still have to go to school in the daytime.”

The Fall Meet continues at Turfway Park through October 6, with live racing every Wednesday through Sunday. First post is 7 p.m. on weeknights and 1:10 p.m. on weekdays.

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