Mixed Feelings

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 31, 2010 in General Discussion | 1 Comment >>

I was reading an article in The Record, a publication serving Troy and bey0nd… I was riveted by a piece written by Steven Crist. After I read, I became a little mixed. You think about what I read, and make up your own mind.

The article was about synthetic surfaces. Crist did not favor that the world’s richest race was being contested on a synthetic surface. This is where I had mixed feelings. Try and follow along, and give me your thoughts.

  • Is this an advertisement for the synthetic revolution?  For the many races that have safely allowed horses to run, there have also been many cancellations due to the surface, and some runners have new injuries when they come back to dirt. The new surface can mask an injury, and the softer footing can lull you into thinking the horse is sound.
  • In 2010, there will be 487 graded races run: 211 will be on dirt, 95 on synthetic, and 181 for the turf.
  • I feel that after reading the article, there are some tracks that need the surface. Take the ovals that have inclement weather, and freeze / thaw winters that lead to dangerous tracks. The heat has shown inconsistent footing. The wax ingredient has shown to be unsafe when the brutal heat takes its toll. For a surface that needs little to no water, when you see the water trucks on hot days, it makes me think twice about the surface.
  • There are very good dirt ovals out there. Do not toss out the history of racing, and the make-up of the surfaces because some have put their foot down. What happened in California was wrong. They mandated the tracks that conduct long meetings to have synthetic. The fair circuits do not have to follow suit. Santa Anita looked as if it were going back to dirt as this is their second surface. Now, they changed their mind…. I think we need to approach with caution, and study this more before we jump any further.

I came in feeling that this was just another factor. As a handicapper, it appeared as another hurdle. When noted writers are taking a heavy stance against the surface switch, it harkens back to the days of Tartan Track, and Equi-Track in the 80’s. Both have went the way of the dinosaur, and the new answer has appeared. I would advise patience. Just wait, and weigh all factors. Leave it up to each individual track, and if they want a sponsor or would like to come up with $10 million to create this oval, then so be it… But, in the meantime, just wait and see. Don’t issue any mandates, and let all businesses make up their own mind.