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.

Saratoga Outer Turf Course

The circumference of the outer turf course is 1 mile (8f). And, just like with the Main Dirt track, there are some distances that are impossible to run on the outer turf course because they would have to place the starting gate directly on the first turn. These distances range between 6f and 7.5f, which are common distances at many other racetracks.

The following diagram highlights the Inner Turf Course (in dark green) at Saratoga and includes the location of the starting gates for each distance from 8f to 12f.

Saratoga Inner Turf Course

The circumference of the inner turf course is 7 furlongs. The turns on this course are sharper than the outer turf course and a little tougher to negotiate for the jockey and horse. For this reason, the Daily Racing Form displays a different symbol for races run on Outer vs. Inner turf courses. Below is an excerpt from the Past Performances (PPs) of a horse that had run on both the inner and outer tracks at Saratoga in 2012.

Inner and Outer Turf PPs example

The diagram to the left shows the different symbols used by DRF to differentiate between races run on Outer vs. Inner turf courses. Also, when a race track has only ONE turf course, the symbol for the Outer Turf course (T inside of a Circle) is always shown.

Regardless of whether a race is run on the outer or inner turf courses, it’s good information to know when a horse was compromised in a prior race due to a poor position on the turn. Sometimes this is the result of the horse being stuck in an outside post position in the starting gate, especially when the gate is located close to a turn. It leaves very little time for the jockey to move their horse over before he hits that first turn of a race.

As noted at the beginning of this post, Saratoga’s turf courses are the basic oval shape, and are not complicated. However, other race tracks have some very interesting variations that we’ll go over in the future.


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