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Synthetic Surface on the Way

Hollywood Park will replace its dirt track this summer at a cost of about $8 million.

June 22, 2006|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

Hollywood Park will become the first racing track in California to run races on a synthetic surface in November.

The new dirt track will be installed later this summer to comply with the mandate by the California Horse Racing Board that the state's major thoroughbred tracks convert to synthetic surfaces by the end of next year.

Installation of the new Hollywood Park surface, known as Cushion Track and made of synthetic fibers, granulated rubber and sand, all coated with wax, will begin after the current meet ends July 16.

The state racing board voted last month to require synthetic surfaces instead of dirt at the state's major thoroughbred tracks -- Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar in Southern California, and Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California -- because of concern about the number of horses euthanized after breaking down with catastrophic injuries.

Much of the publicity about synthetic tracks has centered on a brand known as Polytrack, which was developed in Britain and installed at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., last year. The surface was credited with a decrease in the number of horses euthanized over similar time spans a year apart from 24 to three at Turfway Park.

Polytrack also is being installed at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., and at Woodbine near Toronto. Cushion Track, Hollywood Park's choice, is made by Equestrian Surfaces.

The total cost of the project, which will include about 4 1/2 miles of pipe as part of the drainage system beneath a nine-inch layer of synthetic material, will be about $8 million, Hollywood Park officials said. Work should be completed before the stable area reopens in September, before the beginning of the autumn meet Nov. 1. Officials at Del Mar hope to install a synthetic surface this fall. Santa Anita is pointed toward next year.

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