Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has announced Tapeta™ will be installed on Woodbine’s one-mile main track in time for the 2016 Thoroughbred racing season.
The synthetic surface will replace Polytrack, which has been in place since August of 2006.
Construction on the Tapeta™ (pronounced Ta-PETE-a) track will begin on December 1, 2015. The four December dates, scheduled for the first week of the month, will be moved to Thursdays in November, pending Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approval. Closing day for the 133-date meet is set for November 29.
“At Woodbine, it’s in our mandate to act in the best interests of horse racing and a regular, thorough examination of our track surfaces is paramount in that pursuit,” said Jim Lawson, Chairman of the Board, Woodbine Entertainment Group. “We went through an exhaustive consultation exercise in our search for the new main track. It’s clear that Tapeta is the next generation of horse racing surfaces that we’ll be proud to unveil in April of 2016.”
WEG began investigating options to replace its main track in mid-2014. A dialogue with industry stakeholders was opened and opinions on the direction for the surface, dirt or synthetic, were sought.
“A surface that will endure racing and training through hot and cold climate extremes for more than eight months a year is critical for our horsepeople,” said Lawson. “We also considered racing fans and horseplayers through this process. Field size, the number of quality races and wagering on Woodbine’s thoroughbred racing product has grown appreciably in the synthetic track era. We see those metrics continuing to improve with the installation of Tapeta™.”
Sue Leslie, President of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) acknowledged the efforts of WEG to be thorough and sincere in its consultative process.
“The HBPA has appreciated WEG’s regular and transparent communication with the HBPA’s directors and its members as Woodbine reviewed options for a new racing surface,” Leslie said.
“While acknowledging that HBPA members were very split on their preferred surface, we are satisfied that WEG was thorough and open-minded in its review. The change of surface announcement is a good day for horsepeople and their horses.”
The current Polytrack surface will remain in use throughout the 2015 season.
Two stakes races, the $125,000 Kingarvie Stakes and the Grade 3, $150,000 Valedictory Stakes, originally scheduled for December 5 and December 6, respectively, will be moved up a week to November 28 and November 29.
The Tapeta™ website lists the benefits of using their product as:
- Safer for jockeys/reduced injuries to horses – fewer falls, no toe grabs, stickers or caulks
- More forgiving to forelegs
- Better stability for the hind end
- Horses run on 7-inch cushion
- Horses can run more often
- Reduced Kickback
- Ability to bank turns
- Vertical drainage system
- Eliminates muddy tracks
- Reduced maintenance (smaller tractors, light machines)
- Minimal water needed