Know The Track Conditions

Thoroughbred horse racing is an outdoor sport and races typically take place rain or shine. That means track conditions can vary widely with the weather.

The Daily Racing Blog often refers to track conditions and the amount of moisture held by dirt and turf (grass) racing surfaces.

If you’ve ever got confused by all the track condition lingo, no worries. Here are the explanations in regard to those conditions.

ON DIRT:

FAST– When a dirt track is dry, it is labeled fast. The term fast has little to do with the speed of a racetrack. A fast (dry) track can produce slow times, and a wet track can produce fast times.

GOOD- A nearly fast track, drying out from rainfall, is labeled good.

WET- A track with surface water (from fresh rainfall) that hasn’t had time to sink in and affect the base.

SLOPPY- Similar to a wet track. A surface with some moisture in the base.

MUDDY- Once the base is meaningfully wet, a dirt track is labeled muddy.

SLOW- A track with moisture in the base, but with some surface drying.

SEALED- Used in conjunction with off-track labels, such as sloppy (sealed) or wet (sealed), to indicate a dirt track compacted by machinery to seal out moisture and reduce the amount of water reaching the base.

ON TURF:

FIRM- A standard dry turf course is described as firm.

GOOD- A drying turf course still holding some moisture, compared to a firm surface.

YEILDING– When rainfall strikes, turf degrades to yielding, a slower racing surface more likely to suffer damage (such as divots) from racehorse hooves.

SOFT- A heavy amount of rain can produce a soft course, which is typically even slower and softer than a yielding course.

When a turf track is too wet, or otherwise deemed un-raceable, the contest is cancelled (on turf) to protect both the horses and the race surface. The race is then moved to the dirt track.

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