Aqueduct synthetic surface was actually a Task Force item for consideration

NYRA’s decision to revisit a synthetic surface for Aqueduct’s inner dirt track meet at its Jan. 25 board meeting got this response from DRF’s Steve Crist:

Four months ago, New York state released the results of a comprehensive investigation into a spike in fatal equine breakdowns at Aqueduct last winter. The thoughtful and rigorous study, conducted by veterinary and racing experts and applauded by every segment of the industry, made more than 30 reasonable recommendations for improved safety protocols. It also repeatedly emphasized that there was nothing inherently unsafe about the Aqueduct inner track or the way it was maintained by the New York Racing Association.

So imagine the resounding “huh?” from the racing community when the state-controlled NYRA Reorganization Board issued a press release last Thursday that at its next meeting it will “consider” replacing the inner track with a synthetic racing surface for next year. (The report had briefly raised the issue but took no position and proposed no action.)

To date, there have been five equine deaths at the meet this year versus seven through the end of January last year, even though many of the “safety protocols” have been put in place, so it’s not that far out of the question to at least discuss synthetics, in my opinion. And though Steve is correct in saying that the Task Force report didn’t find fault with the inner track surface, it did mention that moisture is  key to a winterized  surface and a mild winter last year may have played a part in the way the track played. It, therefore, actually suggested a synthetic surface discussion.

Here’s some of what the Task Force said:

Task Force

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3 thoughts on “Aqueduct synthetic surface was actually a Task Force item for consideration”

  1. I am not a huge fan of synthetic but I think it is a good
    idea for the inner course, I prefer Presque Isles surface (Tapeta)
    over Turfways (Polytrack).

  2. With the prevalence of cold temperatures through December – February at Aqueduct, it is telling that the recommendation for a synthetic track was based on the similarity of conditions with Turfway. Those are NOT optimum conditions for anything, not track nor man nor beast, and an auxiliary option would be “take ‘em to Aiken,” if the NY pols weren’t mostly interested in cultivating the $$$.

    1. I’d love to see that, too, Frank. But, the dollars from casinos at Aqueduct, which has propped up the local horsemen, NYS, and the pols, makes your argument nothing more than a fairy tale. A nice one, albeit!

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