Archive for the Surface Category

May 6 2013

Track Conditions

Muddy Day 3

Photo by Alicia Hamm

Track Conditions basically refers to the amount of moisture found in a Race Track.  This can vary from being so dry that maintenance crews have to water the surface in order to hold the dust down, to wet enough that puddles of water appear on the racing surface.  And of course everything in between.

In this article we will define the various conditions for both Dirt and Turf surfaces, and provide examples of how they are presented in the Past Performances (PPs) of the Daily Racing Form.


May 2 2013

Racing Surface Summary (Updated December 2014)

In prior articles we’ve touched on the variety of surfaces that Thoroughbred horses run on at race tracks in North America.  The following table describes the articles in case you want to review them again, or missed them the first time around. You can click on the Article Title within each row to read it in it’s entirety.

Post Title Description
From Furlongs To Ovals Dirt Tracks at Saratoga and Belmont.
More Racetracks and Stretch Run Variations Dirt Tracks including Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, and others.
Saratoga Turf Courses The Inner and Outer Turf Courses at Saratoga Race Track
Other Turf Courses Belmont, Santa Anita, Monmouth, and Kentucky Downs Turf Courses
Synthetic Tracks An Introduction to Synthetic Surfaces.

This article will attempt to pull it all together on the subject of surfaces and also provide some examples on how surface information is presented in the Past Performances (PPs) in The Daily Racing Form.

Apr 30 2013

Synthetic Tracks

Kee Synthetic Dry

Having just returned from a visit to Keeneland race track in Lexington, Kentucky, I thought it was a good time to discuss the various surfaces that Thoroughbred horses race on. The traditional surfaces in North America are dirt and grass, with the highest value Stakes races held on the dirt. For example, the Triple Crown is run exclusively over dirt surfaces.

Keeneland however, has a Synthetic surface made of a mixture of silica sand, recycled fibers (carpet and spandex) and recycled rubber/pvc. I took a close-up picture to the right to show it’s unique texture. This picture was taken on a warm and sunny day, with very little moisture in the track. Below is a picture of the stretch run taken the same day.


Apr 22 2013

Other Turf Courses

In the prior post we looked at the two turf courses at Saratoga.  Now we’ll look at a few other interesting turf courses in North America.  Below is a diagram of the Mellon (Outer) turf course at Belmont Park.

Belmont Mellon Turf


Apr 20 2013

Saratoga Turf Courses

Saratoga is a Race Track that has two turf courses located inside of the Main Dirt track.  The outer turf course is officially known as the Mellon Turf Course, in honor of the Mellon family (whose members were prominent owners and breeders in the Thoroughbred industry).  The inner turf course is located directly inside of the Mellon Turf Course.  As far as turf courses go, it is pretty straight-forward with no chutes or extensions like turf courses at some other race tracks.

The following diagram highlights the Mellon Turf course (in light green) and includes the location of the starting gate (in a box) for each distance from 5f to 9.5f.

Apr 18 2013

From Furlongs to Ovals – More Racetracks and Stretch Run Variations

In a prior article we looked primarily at the Saratoga and Belmont main tracks. Click here to read the article From Furlongs to Ovals (How Distances Vary by Racetrack).  Now we’ll look at a few other tracks in North America, and show a comparison chart of the oval size and stretch run distances for the most popular tracks.

First there is Aqueduct, located in New York State.

Apr 16 2013

From Furlongs to Ovals – How Distances Vary by Racetrack

In an earlier article (What’s a Furlong?) we defined the standard measure of distance in Horse Racing as a furlong.  But, how does that furlong translate into races on an actual race track?  The first thing you have to realize is that it varies by race track.  While the vast majority of race tracks in North America are oval in shape, they are not all the same size, nor the same configuration.  It’s kind of like the difference in Major League Baseball parks.  Some have a short fence, while others have a big green wall.  The number of feet to left, center, and right fields vary.  Some ballparks have grass, while others have artificial turf.  Many similar variations occur in horse racing.