Track surface

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The track surface of a horse racing track refers to the material of which the track is made. There are three types of track surfaces used in modern horse racing.[1] These are:

  • Turf, the most common track surface in Europe
  • Dirt, the most common track surface in the US
  • Artificial or Synthetic, the collective term for a number of proprietary man-made surfaces in use at a number of locations around the world.

The style of racing differs between surfaces, with dirt races tending to be faster than those on turf or artificial surfaces.[2] Anecdotally, dirt racing is the more reliable, and thus more popular, medium for betting purposes.[1] Weather conditions affect the speed of the different surfaces too, and grading systems have been developed to indicate the track condition (known as the "going" in the UK and Ireland).

Synthetic surfaces[edit]

Synthetic surfaces allow racing to take place in bad weather conditions, when it may otherwise be cancelled, and for this reason are sometimes referred to as All Weather surfaces. Manufacturers of synthetic racetrack surface materials promote the fact that synthetic tracks have drainage attributes that are better than natural surfaces.[citation needed] There is also some evidence to suggest that synthetic surfaces are safest in terms of equine welfare.[3]

The first synthetic surface used for thoroughbred racing was Tropical Park's Tartan turf, a synthetic surface similar to Astroturf installed in 1966. Tartan turf was never a success with horsemen.[4]

The first synthetic surface to replace dirt in the United States was installed at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, PA in 1963. This surface, called Tartan, was found to be unsatisfactory and removed and replaced with a traditional limestone surface in 1975.

Name Manufacturer Country Description Installations
Cushion Track Equestrian Surfaces United Kingdom Sand, synthetic fibers, elastic fiber, and granulated rubber coated with wax. The footing is approximately nine inches deep, followed by a geotextile membrane.[5]
Santa Anita Park (removed)
Hollywood Park (shut down)
Courbold Park, Sunshine Coast
Toowoomba, Queensland[A]
Klampenborg, Denmark
Taby Galopp, Sweden
Fibresand Mansfield Sand Company United Kingdom Sand particles and polypropylene fibres.[6] Southwell[7]
Polytrack Martin Collins Enterprises United Kingdom A mixture of silica sand, recycled synthetic fibers (carpet & spandex) and recycled rubber/pvc. In cold climates, the mixture may also include jelly cable (plastic insulation from copper phone wire). The entire mixture is coated with wax. Lingfield Park
Kempton Park
Chelmsford City
Kranji, Mijas(CLOPF)
Turfway Park
Arlington Park
Del Mar Racetrack (replaced)
Keeneland Race Course (replaced)
Pakenham Racecourse, VIC
Cagnes Sur Mer Racecourse
Deauville-Touques Racecourse
Gokdere & Bedew Racecourses in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Fairview Racecourse
Greyville, Durban South Africa
Pro-Ride Pro-Ride Racing Australia Pty Ltd Australia 6 inches of footing (sand, nylon fibres, Spandex fibres coated in a polymeric binder) on top of a 4 inch IMC layer (sand & nylon fibres) on top of a drainage system.[8] Flemington
Santa Anita (removed)
Rosehill Racecourse, NSW
Warwick Farm Racecourse, NSW[9]
Tapeta Michael Dickinson, Inc. United States Sand, fibre, rubber and wax makes up the top 4-7 inches of the racing surface, installed on top of either porous asphalt or a geotextile membrane.[10] Spreyton
Golden Gate Fields
Albany, California
Berkeley, CA
Presque Isle Downs


Visco-Ride Australia Sand and fibre coated in wax Flemington, Victoria (removed)
Cranbourne Racecourse, Victoria (removed)
Warwick Farm Racecourse, New South Wales (removed)
RashitTrack CJSC HC Visteks Russia A mixture of silica sand, recycled synthetic fibers (carpet & spandex) and chopped geotextile. The surface keeps the exploitation characteristics in a wide temperature range (from -40 up to +65 оС). The entire mixture is coated with wax.[11] Akbuzat Hippodrome, Ufa
international sport-horses hippodrome, Kazan
  1. Toowoomba has converted 1/2 the synthetic track into turf and have the all weather track as a training track

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lesovoy, Amber (16 March 2009). "Why is dirt the best track surface for horse racing?". SportingLife:360. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Allin, Jane (November 2011). "Horse Racing Ground Matters: Part 3". Horsefund. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  3. ^ West, Christy (23 March 2009). "Synthetic surfaces vs dirt and turf". The Bloodhorse. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Short history of Tropical Park by Hale, Ron (1997) (retrieved May 2, 2008 from
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "natural turf pitch, fibre-reinforced rootzone". 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  8. ^ Unique 2-Phase cushioning & wax-free polymeric binder
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ and