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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (4/25/07)
Contact: David Zenner
In today's notes:
Arlington Park officially entered the synthetic-track era Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. when Fifteen Rounds and Yanquee Reign, both trained by Christine Janks, were the first two Thoroughbreds to take a spin over the track’s $11-million state-of-the-art Polytrack surface.
“I wanted to be first out, not so much for the history, but we were in a hurry and had a lot to get done this morning,” said Janks, who ranks 11th on Arlington’s all-time leading trainers list and sent approximately 20 horses to the track to train Wednesday morning. “They all seemed to like the track though I had one filly who kind of pranced around on it a bit wondering, ‘What is this?’ but the rest of them galloped on it like normal.”
Janks, who has run horses over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky, notes that the kinder surface should reduce fatigue and injury.
“There is a force when the horse’s hooves hit the ground and on a track that is properly built, there should be a return force to help the horse come back up,” she said. “On a track with a hard base, there isn’t as much return force and that fatigues horses. I think (the return energy) in these tracks probably helps in reducing injuries.”
Trainer Shannon Ritter, whose stable was among the first to arrive on Monday, had her eight-horse string on the track this morning and reported that all of them seemed to handle the surface fine.
“They all went real well,” said the trainer, who galloped many of the horses herself. “It looked real nice up there and the track was groomed real well.”
Though the weather condition was less than ideal for the first day of training at Arlington Park with a steady rainfall, cool temperatures and wind, it served as the perfect illustration for the track’s new drainage system as the mile and an eighth oval remained dry and fast throughout training hours, which Ritter pointed out will mean no more loss of training time because of a sloppy or muddy racetrack.
“When I was at Keeneland it would rain, rain, rain but the track would be perfect,” Ritter said. “That’s one big advantage (of having an all-weather surface) is that it won’t slow training down. In the past, if you had a race coming up and had to work one, the track could come up muddy and you’d cancel the work (and fall behind in training). With this, you’re always good to go.”
Steve Hobby was another conditioner who took advantage of the first day of training sending much of his 32-horse outfit to the track despite the rainy weather. Hobby, who was on horseback on the track during much of training hours, reported that his stock took to the new surface without incident.
“It feels exactly like Keeneland’s,” said Hobby of the new surface. “The training track at Keeneland and the track at Turfway are a little different than the main track at Keeneland but this track is exactly like Keeneland’s main track. It’s great. It’s like riding on cotton. You can’t even feel them touch the ground.”
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