Keeneland converting track surface from Polytrack to dirt - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Keeneland converting track surface from Polytrack to dirt

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Keeneland is keeping busy in the off-season, converting its track back to a dirt surface -- but track officials say it was the right move.

It's Day One of a $4 million project to convert Keeneland's track back to dirt before the Fall Meet.

Day One of 74.

Plows are racing around the track at a slow and steady pace -- a constant reminder to keep moving.

"We've done research for over a year now on materials and drainage and all kinds of race track consistencies," said Amy Gregory, director of communications for Keeneland.

"We have planned it to the point where we were ready to get started," said John Howard, project administrator.

Keeneland installed the synthetic Polytrack eight years ago. Now, they have 16,000 tons to remove.

"We found that owners and trainers who compete at the highest level really prefer to race on dirt," Gregory said.

It looks like dirt, but feels more like rubber. Track officials are switching out the Polytrack for dirt to make Keeneland more competitive.

"We believe that by going back to a dirt surface, we'll attract more top Triple Crown and Breeders Cup contenders -- more top-quality horses -- so we think that will be exciting for our fans and our horsemen alike," Gregory said.

But crews can't just put any dirt on this track. They worked months to find the perfect blend that is safe and reliable.

"It's a native dirt to Kentucky," said Howard. "It's primarily sand. It's a sand and clay mix."

They are planning to lay down the dirt in about two weeks -- and finish this race in August.

You can watch construction throughout the summer on a live webcam on Keeneland's Web site.

Click HERE for more information.

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