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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Poly-woes and Soul searching

According to the DRF, over 150 horsemen attended an open forum at the Woodbine sales pavilion Friday morning to discuss the racing season (which closes Dec. 10) but only one topic was discussed – Polytrack.
“Serious problem” was one of the catch phrases of the session as new thoroughbred senior VP Jamie Martin tried to explain to the folks why the kickback on the Polytrack, Woodbine’s $10 million baby, has been so bad in recent weeks.
Maintenance has to be continually done on the track now, it is being watered and dug up, as the fibres have separated from the wax in the cold weather.
Eeeks, it’s going to get a whole lot colder by Dec. 10!
The track is apparently still safe but on the messy side. A major change from the meeting came when toe grab shoes were made legal after only flat plates had been allowed since the surface was introduced Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, the racing at Woodbine is still interesting for bettors with loads of big fields (okay, so deciphering form on the horses on Polytrack is pretty well near impossible – us public handicappers for papers and DRF are happy when we have one winner a day!) and Saturday’s Maple Leaf Handicap drew an intriguing American invader.
SOUL SEARCH, second to Asi Siempre in the Grade 1 Spinister at Keeneland last month, is the heavy favourite on the morning line to win the 1 1 /4 mile race for older mares. Asi Siempre came back to be a troubled 2nd (later disqualified) in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. No such thing as a sure thing but if she handles Woodbine’s Polytrack, she should win it.

SUNDAY'S card is huge with 11 races and over 110 horses. The Valedictory prep (the last stakes of the season which is 1 3/4 miles and held on te last day of racing) hs a good field going 1 1/2 miles and the Jammed Lovely, while a restricted race, pits Sam-Son's Strike Softly against Kinghaven's Seductively and Frank Stronach's Sugar Swirl. Hey, are we back in the 80's???

The Polytrack is yielding slow times again this week but playing fair it seems with front runners who go slow winning and a fast pace crumbling. Still, this week it is a little more difficult to wire a field.

Racing forums this morning had some more feedback on Woodbine's "dancing chicklets", the Trakus bits that take up a lot of the Woodbine feed. While learning to live with it in recent weeks, handicappers who stay at home sometimes to watch the races continue to be frustrated by the poor filming of the races. Feedback was split on the forums.


  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger rather rapid said…

    can u answer a polytrack question:
    is the kickback a problem in the morning and are horses and riders having to breathe it in during training hours. is this the same polytrack used a keenland.

  • At 4:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Polytrack is different at every track. In the UK you have Lingfield, Kemton Park and Wolverhampton - all Polytrack, but none the same. Polytrack has only worked at Keeneland's training track so far and Woodbine's Polytrack is definitely not the same as at Keeneland.
    Cushion Track which is a similar material to Polytrack seems much better at Hollywood Park and that is in a warm climate where it is more difficult to make these types of material work. Trainers there have been very positive.

  • At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here is a picture which shows the kickback on the clubhouse turn from today's Woodbine Slots Cup Stakes (G3) :

    Scroll down to the bottom photo, click it to see an enlargement. Some of the kickback is near the top of the photo!

  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I see Del Mar have chosen Polytrack. Isn't this strange in the light of what has happened at Turfway Park and Woodbine. Why not Cushion Track? Cushion Track is working well at Hollywood Park but Polytrack has already been taken up at Turfway Park and the same will probably happen at Woodbine. The Del Mar people must know something that we don't.


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