Early Thursday morning, six to eight horses worked over the new dirt surface. Conversion of the main track from a synthetic polytrack surface to dirt began May 19th. At first glance, Keeneland's new track looks very much like the old one. Spokeswoman Amy Gregory says the new track features a unique draining system. "We feel that, when there's rain water, it will flow very quickly off the track toward the inside and outside rails and that will carry it away from the track and eliminate a lot of ponding," said Gregory.
Construction of the dirt track began in May when workers removed 16,000 tons of polytrack to reach the existing layer of porous asphalt. Gregory says the new draining system doesn't eliminate the chance for a sloppy track. "No, unfortunately, we can't completely do away with a sloppy track. The only way we could control that is the rainfall, but this will enable it to be safe for horses and riders when we do have rain. It will help to dry the track even faster," added Gregory.
The dirt surface is comprised of sand, silt, and clay native to Kentucky. Gregory says horses will continue to work the track between now and the start of the fall meet, October 3rd. She says activity will pick up after the September sales, which run the 8th through the 21st.