Synthetic racetrack surfaces for horse racing
A synthetic racetrack surface is any kind of surface substance that replaces dirt or sand as the racing surface on a horse racing track. Synthetic surfaces may be desirable over traditional surfaces for several reasons, most prominently the reduction of injuries and possible deaths to horses because of less wear and tear on their legs (although the statistical evidence thus far is not definitive), and consistent racing conditions in inclement weather. Manufacturers of synthetic racetrack surface materials promote the fact that synthetic tracks have drainage attributes that are better than natural surfaces, which makes tracks to be rated as fast under circumstances that would normally result in sloppy, slow or muddy conditions. In other situations such as cold weather, These surfaces allow racing to be continued when it might otherwise be canceled.
The first synthetic surface ever to be used for thoroughbred racing was not a replacement for dirt, but instead for turf (grass). Tropical Park's Tartan turf, a synthetic surface similar to Astroturf, was installed in 1966 and used as an alternate inside turf track for several seasons. Tartan turf was never a success with horsemen. Since then, there has been no known artificial turf track surface put into use at a public track.
The first synthetic surface to replace dirt was installed at Remington Park in Oklahoma City in 1988. This surface, called Equitrack, was found to be unsatisfactory and removed and replaced with a traditional dirt surface in 1991 after maintenance difficulties and complaints from horsemen.
Current types of synthetic surface materials
There are several such types of synthetic racetrack surfaces being used worldwide.
The Polytrack all-weather track is a patented synthetic surface for racetracks.
In practice, the term might refer to any kind of synthetic horse racing surface, much as "Kleenex" is often used to refer to any facial tissue.
Polytrack has the texture of natural dirt but is lighter in color. It is a mixture of sand, synthetic fibers and recycled rubber coated with a “microcrystalline wax” and mixed on-site, according to the manufacturer. One must also note the failure of the early version of this material first known as "Equitrack." Remington Park used Equitrack as its surface when the facility first opened in 1988. The synthetic surface had numerous problems and its use was abandoned after a few seasons. The Equitrack was replaced with an ordinary dirt surface, which Remington Park still uses to this day.
Polytrack makes up approximately the top six inches of the racing surface, and requires an extensive drainage system before it is applied( Frsnce). The existing dirt surface is removed first, and a system of pipes is installed. Crushed rock comes next, then a layer of porous macadam, followed by the synthetic.
To date it has been installed at:
- Arlington Park (USA)
- Del Mar Racetrack (USA)
- Keeneland Race Course (USA)
- Turfway Park (USA)
- Woodbine Racetrack (Canada)
- Lingfield Park Racecourse (UK) (2001/2002)
- Dundalk Stadium (Ireland)
- Kranji (Singapore)
- Cagnes Sur Mer (France)
- Istanbul (Turkey)
- Marseille (France)
To date it has been installed at:
- Hollywood Park Racetrack (USA)
- Santa Anita Park (USA) (2007-2008)
- Sunshine Coast Turf Club(Australia)
As a result of drainage problems with Santa Anita Park's originally installed Cushion Track synthetic surface, in the winter of 2008 it was rejuvenated by the Australian makers of Pro-Ride all weather synthetic track.    Subsequently, the Cushion Track was replaced by a Pro-Ride surface in the summer of 2008. Due to drainage problems with Pro-Ride in 2010 it is thought that the Pro-Ride will be replaced with the original dirt surface of sand and loam.
- Santa Anita Park (USA)
- Morphettville Racecourse(Austalia)
- Broadmedow Racecourse(Austalia)
- Gostford Race Club(Austalia)
- Golden Gate Fields (USA)
- Presque Isle Downs (USA)
- Meydan Racecourse (UAE)
- Al Quoz (UAE)
- ↑ Short history of Tropical Park by Hale, Ron (1997) (retrieved May 2, 2008 from about.com)
- ↑ Remington Park will keep its dirt racetrack