Turfway says winter racing necessitates keeping Polytrack

awincze@herald-leader.comApril 2, 2014 

Horses race on the new Polytrack surface at Turfway Park Saturday September 17, 2005 in Florence, KY.

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Despite Keeneland's announcement Wednesday that it plans to remove its Polytrack surface and go back to a dirt main track this fall, officials at Turfway Park say the Florence-based oval has no plans to do away with its own synthetic surface.

With Keeneland scheduled to have its dirt surface in place by September, Turfway will become the lone Kentucky track to have a synthetic main surface. Given that Turfway conducts its meeting in the winter, track general manager Chip Bach said Wednesday that trying to return to dirt would be less than ideal.

Turfway had to cancel a handful of cards because of inclement weather this past winter, losses that likely would have been more severe if it still had a dirt track.

"Based on the time of year we run, being a winter racetrack, the synthetic track makes a lot of sense for us," Bach said. "After all the bad weather we had this year, we did experience the Polytrack freezing which we never had before. But from what I heard from old-timers, last time we had this type of weather and we had a dirt track we were down for weeks and weeks. On top of that, we've had a pretty strong safety record on Polytrack and that is very important to us."

Turfway became the first racetrack in North America to install Polytrack on its main track in 2005. It is currently undergoing a three-year upgrade to its surface.

"I know safety is very important to Keeneland so whatever they're going to do they've factored safety in," Bach said of Keeneland going back to dirt. "They lead the industry in everything they do so it will be interesting to see the surface they have been able to engineer. But I'm confident it will be every bit as safe as what we have."

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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