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.

Aqu Dirt Track and PPs Example

Notice that Aqueduct has two Dirt tracks (light and dark brown on the diagram). I also included a piece of a past performance to show how this is presented in The Daily Racing Form. The red box shows two races (Mar 28 and Nov 21) at Aqueduct, where the distance (6f) is shown with no additional information. In fact, if you look below the top two Aqueduct races, you will see races at Belmont, Delaware, and Monmouth that all appear the same way. The absence of anything to the right of the distance means the race was run on the “Main Track.”

The bottom two races listed (Mar 11 and Jan 7) have a small box with a dot in the middle; and appear to the right of the 6f distance. This signifies that the race was run on the “Inner” dirt track. There are other symbols that can appear to the right of the distance but they relate to Synthetic and Turf courses.

Here are a few other track diagrams of some popular tracks in North America:

Churchill Downs


Santa Anita

Each track has slightly different characteristics. Churchill Downs has the classic chute (like Saratoga) to the far right of the dirt track. Keeneland has a chute to the upper left side of their Synthetic track that allows them to run the 4.5f sprints for 2-year old horses. And, Santa Anita, has a very interesting turf extension to the left side of the track where they run their 6.5f turf races. I’ll go into that more in a future post when I focus on Turf Course layouts.

The following is a chart of some popular tracks in North America. The second column is the total distance of the Main Track oval. The third column is the distance from the last turn to the finish line, or put another way, the length of the stretch run. The list is sorted first by oval size and second by stretch run.

Race Track Main Track Oval Stretch Run
Delmar 1 mile (8f) 919 feet
Turfway Park 1 mile (8f) 970 feet
Tampa Bay Downs 1 mile (8f) 976 feet
Monmouth Park 1 mile (8f) 990 feet
Santa Anita Park 1 mile (8f) 990 feet
Pimlico 1 mile (8f) 1,152 feet
Oaklawn Park 1 mile (8f) 1,155 feet
Churchill Downs 1 mile (8f) 1,234 feet
Fair Grounds 1 mile (8f) 1,346 feet
Keeneland 1 1/16 mile (8.5f) 1,174 feet
Gulfstream Park 1 1/8 mile (9f) 898 feet
Arlington Park 1 1/8 mile (9f) 1,049 feet
Saratoga 1 1/8 mile (9f) 1,144 feet
Aqueduct 1 1/8 mile (9f) 1,155 feet
Belmont park 1 1/2 mile (12f) 1,097 feet

For a complete list of the Race Tracks, and detailed information of course sizes for both Main tracks and Turf courses, click here to go to the Daily Racing Form website page containing this information.

As you can see, track sizes and configurations vary significantly. These variations matter when handicapping, and a firm understanding of the different track configurations gives you an edge when reviewing the past performances of a horse. We’ll be getting into this in much more detail in future posts.

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

6 comments on “From Furlongs to Ovals – More Racetracks and Stretch Run Variations

  1. Hey Neal, very nice to meet you today at Keeneland. Please let me know if the folks at NYRA are interested in developing a betologist type program like we have at Keeneland. I would be more than excited to be involved in some capacity with it. Thank you and as the great Harvey Pack used to say, “May the horse be with you.”


    Jon Venditti on
  2. hi I lived in san diego all my life and played the breeders cup every year this is going to be so hard to handicap this year being at del mar the track is only 919 feet, santa anita 990 feet , and Belmont is 1,097 feet so what am I asking is the sprints and distance for horses going to be hard for them to run at Delmar, and also for the turf at Delmar for horses from over seas is really going to be hard , also are the turns at Delmar more tighter than santa anita also , is there other web sites to find out more information thank you very much

    shawn williams on

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