By T. D. Thornton
Human error on the part of a heavy equipment operator at Turfway Park has been identified as the cause of several chunks of pavement being discovered in the recently installed Tapeta Footings synthetic track at Turfway Park that just opened for racing in December.
During the Jan. 26 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory board meeting, Tyler Picklesimer, Turfway's director of racing and racing secretary, was asked to update the board on how the new Tapeta surface was performing.
Picklesimer told the board members via teleconference that, “We've had no complaints. Everybody's been happy with the surface. It's performed well within the cold, actually better than the Polytrack did in severe cold weather. But no, so far so good–everybody's happy.”
Bill Landes III, the chairman of the KTDF advisory committee, then asked Marty Maline, the executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (KHBPA), if that assessment squared with the general consensus of his organization's membership.
Maline responded by saying, “The horsemen are just elated with the surface [and] its drainage. It's running really true to form.”
But then Maline added: “We had a little hiccup about a week or so ago. A horseman actually brought a couple of rocks [from the racing surface] in to the office, and it, of course, started a panic of sorts.
“But right away the [Turfway] track man explained that when they were actually getting the surface into the front-loader [when installing it], they actually had chopped off a couple of pieces of blacktop,” Maline said. “And so it was a very limited situation.”
Maline said that right after the discovery, KHBPA board member Bill Connelly walked the circumference of the one-mile oval to inspect it, adding, “at about 15 F degrees, [he's] a stronger man than I am.”
Maline said after that inspection, “there was about two or three of these pieces of blacktop, and they were taken care of. [Tapeta Footings executives Michael Dickinson and Joan Wakefield] came in and reviewed it, and explained it wasn't the bottom, because the bottom is all [a different type of uniform-sized] rocks. And so everything died down. There wasn't any real problem with it.”
Maline closed out the subject by reiterating his overall positive impression that the Tapeta track has “been a godsend, really. It's a great surface.”