Following a four-month renovation period that included a refurbished main track and converting the winterized inner track to a second turf course, the New York Racing Assocation’s Aqueduct Racetrack has re-opened for training. Glen Kozak, NYRA’s Vice President of Facilities and Racing Surfaces, oversaw the project, which included the work of roughly a dozen full-time NYRA employees as well as a handful of contractors specializing in irrigation, grading and other trades.
“This is definitely the biggest project we’ve undertaken at NYRA and we’re very happy with what our crew was able to accomplish in four months,” said Kozak.
The project consisted of the removal of both the old clay-based main track, traditionally used during the fall and spring meets, and the limestone-based inner track, installed in 1975 to accommodate winter racing. Completed in mid-September, the new main oval is comprised of more than 18,000 tons of additional limestone dust for the main track’s base and new cushion material for a composition similar to that of the year-round training track at Belmont Park, which was renovated in the summer of 2016. The main track also features an expanded drainage system and has been outfitted with a new safety rail, the first of its kind to be used for live racing at a NYRA racetrack.
The new outer turf course includes a new drainage sand base, 115 new sprinkler heads and 698,400 square feet of Kentucky Blue Grass sod, as well as a state-of-the-art irrigation system.
Aqueduct’s fall meet begins Nov. 3, and so far the new main track has been met with positive reviews.
“It looks good right now,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. “I think the more horses that train on it, and the more work that they do, it’s just going to get better and better.”