The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 

View Poll Results: The last graded stakes race to be run on 'dirt' will be

Voters
22. You may not vote on this poll
  • 3-years from now

    1 4.55%
  • 5-years from now

    2 9.09%
  • 10-years from now

    2 9.09%
  • 15-years from now

    2 9.09%
  • at least 1 still run on conventional 'dirt' in my lifetime

    15 68.18%
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 46
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default Synthetic surfaces; demise of dirt?

    So with the first official day of racing at Golden Gate Fields using Tapeta Footing, it's creator the infamous Mad Genius - Michael Dickinson was quoted as saying:

    "I don't think there will be a dirt track in three years," he said. "Injuries to horses and riders will be too much to take. This reduces them. Animal rights groups, the Jockeys' Guild, insurance companies and horse owners will be clamoring for it."
    Here is the question - when do you think the last graded stakes race will be run on conventional dirt in the US?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default

    Keep in mind I'm asking about graded stakes races. Frankly I don't know if the money - or desire - is there to ever convert some tracks who may run stakes races but don't offer any graded ones. So I presume dirt tracks that hold QH racing and other assortments likely will be dirt until the end of time.

    Example, the old Mass Fair circuit tracks like Northampton (since gone but some rumblings of it returning) was too brief to justify synthetic conversion and it never held graded races

    The conversion of several big name tracks to a synthetic surface will take years. No one is looking to convert Saratoga anytime soon; in fact NYRA only made a passing mention of it being something they'll only begin to explore in the next several years. With an excellent reputation for its condition and the exceptionally low breakdown record there are few supporting reasons. Chicago-area track Hawthorne, which does hold graded stakes races like the noted Kentucky Derby preprace - the Illinois Derby - takes defiant pride in being a dirt track unlike it's rival track Arlington and their well known conversion.
    Last edited by Glimmerglass; Nov. 13, 2007 at 02:46 PM.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,661

    Default

    I can't see every single North American track with a major graded race converting to a synthetic surface in my lifetime. I would be really shocked if that happened. Even if most tracks do convert, I am sure someone will host a big race on the dirt, boasting it as one of the few stakes races on the dirt.

    I also don't think we have enough evidence that synthetic surfaces alone are going to completely revolutionize racing. In the grand scheme of things, our experience racing on it has been very limited. I really do believe we need more time before we can justify changing every racing surface. Dirt surfaces can subtly change over many years-- mineral buildups, material breakdown, erosion, etc. I really don't think we can be 100% sure stuff like that won't happen with the synthetics until they have been in place awhile, despite what all the manufacturing companies claim.

    And... all three TC races are still on the dirt. What's the buzz on that? Is anyone pushing to change that? I honestly haven't heard a big push to change that yet. Little quibbles here and there, yes, but it's not like the top trainers are boycotting the TC, refusing to run until all 3 tracks are synthetic.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2006
    Posts
    4,357

    Default

    I think MD is being just a bit hyperbolic. Of course he has a vested interest, so he will up the ante.

    I think if anything will accelerate the change to AW surfaces it will $$, and not as much reduced injuries/deaths. So if in a couple of years places like Arlington, Hollywood etc show they have saved a decent chunk of change in reduced maintenance, and a reduction in the number of days lost to weather, increase in handle etc etc, then others will likely bite the bullet.
    At ~$8m a pop to convert, there are plenty of smaller tracks that hold G3s (Emerald, Prairie Meadows, Fairmount etc), that aren't going to be able to afford it without some financial incentive.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Texarkana View Post
    And... all three TC races are still on the dirt. What's the buzz on that? Is anyone pushing to change that? I honestly haven't heard a big push to change that yet. Little quibbles here and there, yes, but it's not like the top trainers are boycotting the TC, refusing to run until all 3 tracks are synthetic.
    I don't see Pimlico being used enough to support the cost of conversion. Magna doesn't have the money to do that nor the motivation. I suspect Pimlico will change hands (or maybe even close - thus relocating the Preakness elsewhere) before a big cry for its conversion to synthetic happens.

    "Excelsior Racing" when bidding for the big-three NYtracks did propose in their final bid the conversion of Belmont and Aqueduct's racing surface to synthetic at some point. They did not however get the award for the franchise of the three tracks. All that NYRA (the tentative awarded bidder) has said in their bid response is that they'll study it.

    I could see Churchill Downs (especially with Arlington Park seeing the economic benefits and Duchossois being the biggest shareholder of CDI) converting sooner then the other two tracks.

    Keeneland and Turfway Park have done fine by horsemen in their coversions and as somewhat progressive facility it makes sense. With the all important Bluegrass Stakes being on polytrack and still remaining as one of the more important final Derby prep races, that gives support for the pro-synthetic camps to say the Derby could be held on it too.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Posts
    846

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Texarkana View Post
    I also don't think we have enough evidence that synthetic surfaces alone are going to completely revolutionize racing. In the grand scheme of things, our experience racing on it has been very limited.
    I agree. It's way too soon to say synthetic is definitely better than dirt. I certainly know plenty of horsemen and handicappers complaining about the various synthetic surfaces. With Tapeta, the kickback raises concerns. Polytrack can be inconsistent. Etc. And, is safety really that much better? I think it's too soon to say. It's important to remember that the CHRB mandated the tracks convert to synthetic surfaces. Will other governing bodies do the same? I doubt it - the CHRB has come under a lot of criticism.

    I would be surprised to see any new tracks - like PRE - come out with anything other than a synthetic surface, but I think a lot of management will step back and wait for more info. before making the investment to convert existing surfaces.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    13,997

    Default

    Three questions: Why is it legal to run barefoot on poly and not dirt?
    The poly runs faster - how do old rcords stand up as to who is really the faster horse? What are the trainers/jockeys saying, not just the brass?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Posts
    846

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxtrot's View Post
    The poly runs faster - how do old rcords stand up as to who is really the faster horse? What are the trainers/jockeys saying, not just the brass?
    Races over Polytrack are actually slower. The stuff sort of sucks at your feet when you walk on it. The Form and other handicapping literature denote synthetic surfaces on both tracks and training centers to help make bettors better utilize time information. There is talk of creating a new set of track and course records for synthetic surfaces.

    As far as the horsemen and riders, I'm hearing a lot of questions about the reality of safety. When we were at Keeneland this fall (Polytrack) there were a number of breakdowns and there was some sarcastic grumbling. With Polytrack, the riders think there is a bias against front runners. With Tapeta, the riders are concerned about kickback, as are trainers. There are also legitmate concerns with the consistency of the surface during weather changes - Turfway struggled with this last winter.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    13,997

    Default

    The reason I thought the poly ran faster was in Toronto: a friend's horse, Real Candy, ran third and equalled (or beat?) the track record.
    And the barefoot thing? At least one horse has won there barefoot, but on other tracks shoes are mandatory. Have to have my facts straight for when the barefooters come at me! Time will tell if it is really a better footing, but I also have been told that it is not nice to be behind the frontfunners and that it is very hard to clean off the horses after the race and also that it is inconsistent.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,661

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxtrot's View Post
    The reason I thought the poly ran faster was in Toronto: a friend's horse, Real Candy, ran third and equalled (or beat?) the track record.
    And the barefoot thing? At least one horse has won there barefoot, but on other tracks shoes are mandatory. Have to have my facts straight for when the barefooters come at me! Time will tell if it is really a better footing, but I also have been told that it is not nice to be behind the frontfunners and that it is very hard to clean off the horses after the race and also that it is inconsistent.
    I have no idea on the barefoot thing... this is the first I've heard of it. I'd love to hear the reasoning.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not against artificial surfaces. But I still think we need more time before converting every single major North American track to them.

    For example, something that really concerns me is the potential for material breakdown/shifting and the possibility of punching through to the asphalt. I think the standard installation is something like 6" of surface material above the asphalt. That's not a whole lot of buffer if the material starts shifting/breaking down in extreme climate changes over time. Or what if the asphalt layer starts to deteriorate due to the constant concussion of racing. I mean, shoot, look what happens to roads that are heavily traveled...

    But all in all, it's probably a step in the right direction. I just don't think there's enough evidence that we should switch ever single graded stakes race to synthetic surface immediately. It's not like horses don't ever breakdown on artificial surfaces...
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default Not unexpected I suppose

    Looks like with the booming business 'The Mad Genius' will be leaving the training scene ... one has to assume that Michael could potentially make a fortune even greater then having a dozen 'Da Hoss' level horses in the barn.

    DRF "Dickinson will not train in 2008" 11-13-07

    ...announced on Tuesday that he will not apply for a trainer's license in 2008 because he needs "100 percent of my time to concentrate on Tapeta Footings," the synthetic surface he developed.

    "I spent most of last winter overseas and 50 percent of my time this summer visiting Tapeta installations in five countries, which obviously leaves little time for training," Dickinson said in a statement. "I have been concerned for some time about the welfare of horses racing on unsuitable surfaces and really want to repay the horse in my own small way."



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default

    I suppose - in light of the news of Michael Dickinson's retirement - that is just more bad news for Maryland. From sportinglife.com:

    The 57-year-old is winding down operations at his Maryland farm on America's East Coast and plans to have dispersed most of his horses by mid-December to concentrate on laying his all-weather surface Tapeta.
    So does that mean his Tapeta Farm - the 200-acre ""Chantilly of the Chesapeake" will be sold (or at least reduced in size) since it won't be involved in the training of horses? It's a damn shame such a fine physical plant and series of training grounds would go unused.

    Regarding Dickinson's track surface:

    Tapeta, which is Latin for carpet, is now used in Dubai, Singapore, Korea and the UK, with the States responsible for 20 different installations.

    "There are 100 racecourses here [in the US] and eight of them race on synthetic surfaces. But that will change and in three to five years' time there will be no dirt tracks left," he said.
    His record as a trainer was quite amazing in the early 1980's and still untouched to this day:

    Other notable achievements: Trained first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup - Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck, Ashley House.

    World record number of winners in a day - 12 on December 26, 1982.

    Record number of winners in a jumps season: 117.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,661

    Default

    Tapeta Farm will almost undoubtedly become houses if it goes up for sale... that's very sought after waterfront property in the area. I doubt anyone short of the Sheiks would be able to afford to purchase it as a training center.

    (And with MD racing on a downward spiral, who would want to? )

    Hopefully he'll keep it going somehow. I love that place.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 1999
    Posts
    17,599

    Default

    Alas - the worst fears ... Baltimore Sun 11-26-07

    Dickinson said he will continue to live in Maryland as he moves full time to his new career but will probably sell most, if not all, of Tapeta Farm, where he has about 10 horses still in training.

    "I don't need a 200-acre garden," he said. "But I could never imagine not having horses in my life. But everywhere I go now, I'm surrounded by horses."
    Such a shame he couldn't just lease the farm to another trainer as opposed to selling it off and almost guaranteed to be developed within years.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,238

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxtrot's View Post
    Three questions: Why is it legal to run barefoot on poly and not dirt?
    The poly runs faster - how do old rcords stand up as to who is really the faster horse? What are the trainers/jockeys saying, not just the brass?
    Is not,
    At least in US all TBs racing on a pari-mutual track must be shod.

    Just what in the world is more natural than dirt anyway????
    Money spent on that could be better spent in other areas. Perhaps more badly needed money for horsemen?

    This kneejerk reaction to junk science will be abandoned soon enough if we keep seeing stories like this http://hoofcare.blogspot.com/2007/11...racing-on.html

    George



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2006
    Posts
    4,357

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JHUshoer20 View Post
    Just what in the world is more natural than dirt anyway????
    That green stuff, Grass.

    There is nothing natural about the dirt mixes used in most dirt tracks. They are specially blended mixes of sand, loam, silt and clay etc shipped in and put on a specially prepared base. Except for ingredients they are every bit as artificially put together as the the synthetic surfaces.
    Back 130 years ago when someone went out and harrowed a field and then raced on it, then one could say that was somewhat natural.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2002
    Location
    PA, where the State motto is: "If it makes sense, we don't do it!".
    Posts
    11,042

    Default

    I didn't vote--I have no idea when dirt tracks will go by the wayside.

    In California a law was passed that made it mandatory for the tracks to go to synthetics. If it's shown to significantly cut down on injuries to the horses I think a major push will occur (due in part to the injuries Barbaro received) to change every single track over to synthetics, or they will just have to go out of business! Every day more and more non-horse people become aware of that catastrophic injuries that plague flat racing and I don't think people are going to put up with it now as they have in the past....

    Personally I feel that the concern for racing Thoroughbreds has taken a back seat in this society for far too long--especially among wealthy Thoroughbred owners! Look at all the horses that may not have had to be destroyed if it hadn't been for the injuries caused by the track....

    I hope these synthetic tracks pan out and work as advertised....
    "Good gardening is very simple, really. You just have to learn to think like a plant." ~Barbara Damrosch~



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,661

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cherry View Post
    I didn't vote--I have no idea when dirt tracks will go by the wayside.

    In California a law was passed that made it mandatory for the tracks to go to synthetics. If it's shown to significantly cut down on injuries to the horses I think a major push will occur (due in part to the injuries Barbaro received) to change every single track over to synthetics, or they will just have to go out of business! Every day more and more non-horse people become aware of that catastrophic injuries that plague flat racing and I don't think people are going to put up with it now as they have in the past....

    Personally I feel that the concern for racing Thoroughbreds has taken a back seat in this society for far too long--especially among wealthy Thoroughbred owners! Look at all the horses that may not have had to be destroyed if it hadn't been for the injuries caused by the track....

    I hope these synthetic tracks pan out and work as advertised....

    No one here thinks artificial surfaces are BAD. No one here isn't concerned for the horses' well being and safety. What you have here are skeptics (me being one of them) who want to see more than a season or two of racing on the synthetics before tearing up and resurfacing every track in North America.

    Horses still break down on the artificial surfaces... sheesh, look at Presque Isle Downs. It's an improvement, but by no means is it a cure-all. Personally, all I want to do is see how it handles the rigors of multiple seasons of weather and racing before making each track shell out $8 million for it.

    And personally, I don't think non-horse people are going to sway this change at all. How many non-horse people are part of the reguarly betting public? Not many. How many non-horse people are even aware of the difference between dirt and synthetic surfaces? Even fewer. And I just can't see all the slot and casino goers protesting a dirt track, threatening to take their money elsewhere until the track switches surfaces.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 7, 2003
    Posts
    4,057

    Default

    I think there will always be at least one dirt bullring going somewhere.

    Winterized dirt is hardly natural.

    I haven't made up my mind about polytrack etc., but in regards to reduction of track-related break downs, I do think banning toe grabs --at least in front-- would be a lot cheaper than converting to synthetic.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,661

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Barnfairy View Post
    I haven't made up my mind about polytrack etc., but in regards to reduction of track-related break downs, I do think banning toe grabs --at least in front-- would be a lot cheaper than converting to synthetic.
    Or sponsoring some backside classes on proper shoeing!
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



Similar Threads

  1. Dressage Arena Surfaces
    By WILLOW&CAL in forum Dressage
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: Jul. 9, 2011, 11:02 PM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last Post: Feb. 28, 2010, 06:10 PM
  3. Travel Right Surfaces/Footing First?
    By equineartworks in forum Off Course
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Nov. 2, 2009, 10:03 AM
  4. Demise of stables in SoCal
    By SoCalChick in forum Off Course
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: Jan. 28, 2009, 12:06 AM
  5. synthetic vs. dirt--what do you think?
    By kcmel in forum Racing
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: Oct. 27, 2008, 09:55 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
randomness