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No new track surface for Tampa Bay Downs
By DON JENSEN
Published June 3, 2006
OLDSMAR - Thoroughbred tracks are installing synthetic racing surfaces. Tampa Bay Downs won't be one of them.
"There's been no discussions about us (going synthetic)," Tampa Bay Downs vice president and general manager Peter Berube said. "We're known as being one of the safer tracks in the country. The synthetic surface is still fairly new in the industry."
Oaklawn Park in 2005 became the first American track to replace its dirt track with Polytrack, a wax-coated mixture of synthetic fibers, recycled rubber and sand. Keeneland, which installed Polytrack on its training facility in 2004, is putting the surface on its main track in Lexington, Ky. Woodbine in Toronto also is switching to Polytrack. Later this fall, Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro trained, will replace its wood-chip course with a similar synthetic surface manufactured by Tapeta Footings, a company owned by trainer Michael Dickinson.
California passed legislation recently that requires all major thoroughbred facilities in that state to install synthetic racing surfaces by the end of 2007.
Designed in Europe, Polytrack is considered to be safer than dirt because of its even composition across the track. The synthetic surface has easy maintenance and drainage.
Oaklawn Park's report card on Polytrack carries high marks. After one year with the new surface, the Florence, Ky., track saw a reduction in catastrophic breakdowns from 24 to three, with 1,100 more starters. Only one racing card was canceled after 11 were scratched in the previous season.
The installation of Polytrack is estimated to cost as much as $7-million.
Berube said he has received at least 10 resumes from applicants for the track's racing secretary position vacated by John Morrissey. ... John Velazquez is expected to ride Sam F. Davis winner Bluegrass Cat, and Edgar Prado will be aboard Tampa Bay Derby winner Deputy Glitters in the Belmont Stakes on June 10 at Belmont Park.
Stakes winners Greys Calibrator (Derby Lane Million), Cajun Cain (Sprint Classic), Solitary Demon (Night of Stars XVII) and Top Cat Orson (Night of Stars XVI) head nominations for the T.L. Weaver Memorial at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. Sixteen greyhounds compete in two qualifying races Wednesday with the top four finishers in each event advancing to the 550-yard championship race June 10. ... Derby Lane runners Jack Whistler and Flying Miso finished second and third, respectively, in the Great American Greyhound Futurity at the Woodlands (Kan.) on Monday. Flying Britt was the winner. ... Tampa Greyhound Track released the stakes schedule for its meet that runs July 1-Dec. 30. The lineup: Future Champions Preview and Tampa Inaugural on July 1; Tampa Shootout on Sept. 9; Tampa Speed Classic on Oct. 14; Tampa Juvenile Stakes on Nov. 11; and Tampa Derby and Tampa Consolation Derby on Dec. 30.