Carl Hilliard | Crest Road
Shirley King’s article about polytrack could have been written 5 years ago -- I was a big proponent of polytrack at the time -- now experience tells us that is is a failed experiment. Please look at the attached picture on the cover of the horse racing magazine. Note that only one leg is on the ground supporting a 1200 pound horse going up to 40 miles per hour -- that’s how they run. On dirt, the hoof slides forward and the downward impact is mitigated. On polytrack the hoof does not slide so we have a different set of more injuries to the suspensory system that are often career ending.
Polytrack was not designed for the heavy use it receives in DM where the track is used both for training and races. In Europe, where polytrack was first introduced, the horses train on the “gallops” which are grassy undulating open fields. Polytrack holds up under their weather conditions and race meets are relatively short. But here, the material has broken down and the chemicals have leached into the substrate causing small rocks to surface that are very dangerous to horse and rider. The problem with dirt is it that it is hard to achieve the right mixture of clay and sand that will be consistent during rapid changes in moisture -- big problem for DM, but Joe Harper has put a lot of effort into figuring out the correct ingredients and the horsemen are raving about the dirt at Los Alamitos.
The cards continued to be shuffled as a result of Hollywood’s closing. Pomona has now petitioned orse the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to close and DM is the obvious venue for the relocation of the major Southern California sales event -- think sales tax -- think pavilion that can double as a place for arts and music. Also, Craig Fravel, who was the DM Throughbred President and now the head of the Breeders Cup, has made some brilliant moves with NBC to promote the Breeders Cup and horse racing on the national and international scene.