It has come to the attention of the Daily Racing Blog that we take for granted that all our readers have a working knowledge about the track conditions we often mention when talking about certain horses and/or races. We will amend that issue right now.
On Dirt Surfaces
Fast: Dry, even, and resilient. Dry to the point of occasionally needing to be watered down by the grounds-crew.
Wet/Fast: A brief cloudburst over a fast track can sometimes leave a thin layer of water over the formerly dry surface, that can, at times produce running times as fast or faster than a dry track.
Good: Generally a drying track that still has too much moisture in it to be considered fast. A track can also be listed as Good on the way from Fast to Sloppy.
Sloppy: A wet track with visible, standing water on the surface, but that is still firm beneath and may still produce some fast times.
Sealed: A dirt track will be packed down (but not harrowed) in anticipation of heavy rains, in order to let water run off the surface, rather than absorbed into the track. Sloppy tracks can also be sealed to even out the racing surface, (for safety purposes) which helps float some of the water out of the track, so that it will run off the surface.
Muddy: A wet track where the moisture has settled deeper into the track, causing sloughy, squashy conditions which produce much slower race times.
On Turf (Grass) Surfaces
Firm: Solid, dry, and resilient sod. Corresponds to a Fast track on a dirt surface.
Good: Contains more moisture than a firm course, and offers slightly more give to the animals stride.
Hard: Turf that has not had any rain for an extended period and is so dry the grass is dying and horses often kick up clouds of dust as they race over the course.
Soft: The course contains a significant amount of moisture and horses cut deep hoof marks into the surface when racing.
Yielding: A very wet grass course, one which the horses sink deeply into as they run.
Heavy: A deep, often waterlogged course that is very tiring to run on, and produces very slow time.
Track stewards can, at their discretion, take races off the turf course if conditions are deemed unsafe- to both horse and rider.
Feel free to take DRB to task whenever we assume the casual horse player should know what we’re referring to ALL the time. We’re here to elucidate as well as educate. Hope this helped.