Red-Hot Winter Racing in Kentucky

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 16, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Red-Hot Winter Racing in Kentucky

The sun was setting with a glow on the horizon. Each passing day brings nightfall a little sooner as daytime fades into the distance. Autumn’s song is sweetly fading as brisk winds come calling to swirl and sweep away the gifts of summer. – This is the prelude to the beginning of winter, and the gift of racing swings into another season.

My life has always been in Kentucky. The seasons herald a new chapter, and racing is enjoyed year round. Winter brings the horses to Northern Kentucky in Florence. – Once called Latonia Race Course; has evolved into Turfway Park. Bought and sold over the years, and finally in the hands of Churchill Downs. A new day is beginning and the books are open for another exciting chapter to be etched into racing history. The ancient building is memory and a state-of-the-art facility will replace the antiquated white elephant with gaming, a full-card-simulcasting race book, and a safer track for equine athletes to compete. Some of the biggest stables in the country are focusing on the winter oval to call home.

The track surface is no longer a traditional “dirt” course, but now has switched over to a safer synthetic blend of Tapeta. – Tapeta is a Thoroughbred racing and training surface comprised of a carefully selected mixture of the finest silica sand, wax and fibers that have been extensively researched and simulate the root structure of turf. Tapeta has been tried and tested in all climates at training and racetracks around the world. Florence, Kentucky can be the perfect location for such a surface. The weather can be in the low 30’s in the afternoon, and once the sun sets can dip nearing 20 degrees. Winds can be vicious for night time racing, and only the wind chills and temperature can cancel racing as the surface is perfectly safe in any condition. If the weather gets nasty during the winter months, it is paramount to protect the safety of equine and human athletes competing when Mother Nature can make it unsafe for the race cards to be run. That is mainly the only time you will see a cancellation for the races.

Over the years there have been many studies and comparisons of why Tapeta is safer. At Newcastle in England, there were 0 fatalities from 4,754 runners in a past meeting. Wolverhampton had 3 for 5,363 runners. Heralded greatly by some of the biggest trainers in the U.K. the fast and firm consistency has held up in every type of climate.

Tracks in the United States have been using the new surface with great results. Woodbine in Canada, Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, and as of late Gulfstream Park in Florida has added an “inner” Tapeta course for runners to compete. – Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania has been running on the surface since 2007 and been used as it a prep for six winners of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint exiting the Presque Isle Masters.

Watching the horses run on the Tapeta surface is unique. No more frozen unleveled surfaces of the old, replaced with a safer surface kind to the runners as they skip across the oval with little to no kickback for safety of riders and horses. Winter racing is back in Kentucky, and a new day awaits. With full fields and a safe surface, it is a prime track to watch and wager for value as players will make Turfway Park a circuit to follow during the winter months.