The opening of the 2018 Aqueduct Fall Meet on Friday, November 2 will see the unveiling of a new, renovated inner turf course, the New York Racing Association has announced.
The new inner turf course is similar in design to the outer turf course, which replaced the winterized inner track in 2017 and garnered rave reviews from jockeys and horsemen.
Completed in July, construction of the new inner turf included the installation of a new sand drainage layer and an improved irrigation system to match that of the outer turf. Also like the outer course, new Kentucky Blue Grass sod was installed on the seven-furlong course and chute.
It was the first significant renovation to the inner turf course since the mid-1970s and results in an additional rail setting as well as a much more consistent racing surface.
“These improvements are significant and will allow NYRA to card additional races over the inner turf throughout the fall and spring,” said Glen Kozak, NYRA VP of Facilities & Racing Surfaces. “The modernized irrigation and drainage systems will add consistency to the surface and will allow the course to recover much more quickly than in the past. Jockeys, as well as horsemen and horsewomen, can look forward to a completely renovated second turf course when racing returns to Aqueduct on November 2.”
Last year, NYRA undertook an extensive renovation of the main track to accommodate a wider variety of racing distances year-round as well as the installation of a one-mile outer turf course.
“I thought they did a great job with the turf they put in last year, and they’re doing the same thing for the inside, so it’ll be great,” said John Velazquez, Hall of Fame jockey and chairman of the Jockey’s Guild.
“[The outer turf] was very consistent and very good. It’ll be much better to have the new one inside, as well,” he added. “I don’t know how long you can run when the winter comes, but we’ll see how the track holds up. Maybe we can hold on a little bit longer.”
Dr. Mick Peterson, Executive Director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, verified that the course meets all pre-construction specifications and is now ready for training and racing. This conclusion was made following extensive testing using ground penetrating radar as well as detailed composition analysis of the new inner turf course.
Dr. Peterson and his team will continue to monitor the course throughout the Aqueduct fall meet adhering to the procedures set forth in the Maintenance Quality System.