FLORENCE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new synthetic race track is coming to Turfway Park near Florence, in northern Kentucky.
The $5.6-million project is expected to create a safer racing surface for horses during the track’s winter meets.
Turfway Park was the first track in the country to get a synthetic surface in 2005 and is overdue for replacement.
“The life expectancy on this track I believe was about eight years,” Turfway Park General Manager Chip Bach said. “And we’ve obviously exceeded that quite a bit. So we’re ready for a new racing surface.”
The blend of fibers, ground rubber, treated sand, oil and wax keeps the surface dry and prevents freezing.
Over the last decade at Turfway, Bach said the synthetic surface led to fewer cancellations and a safety record better than the national average.
But the most recent numbers from 2018 showed thoroughbred fatalities trending upward.
The Equine Injury Database, maintained by the Jockey Club, shows Turfway registered a rate of 1.99 fatalities per 1,000 starts, higher than the national average rate of 1.68.
When Churchill Downs Inc. purchased Turfway in 2019, Bach said massive renovation plans, including a new grandstand and gaming facility, started with replacing the old track.
“So they went after the best racing surface, locked it in and made sure that’s going to be the first priority,” Bach said. “And it’s going to be the first real action taken here on the grounds.”
Construction will begin at the conclusion of the current season.
The new track is expected to be open to horses for training in November.