Sunday, March 23, 2014

Keeneland Race Course: Lexington, Kentucky

Hello Blog Followers

This past week was our spring break, unfortunately I was not sitting on the beach with my feet in the warm sand, sun shining, and ocean breeze in my face. Instead I was taking full of advantage of my free-time and networking with some of the top professionals in the horse racing industry. Since I will be interning this summer over in Ireland at some of the most prestigious horse racing tracks in the world, The Curragh and The Naas, I thought it would be wise of me to see the day in the life of a horse track superinetendent before hand. I contact numerous people and worked my way through the grape-vine before being put in contact with the Director of Maintenance at Keeneland Race Courese in Lexington, KY. I called the Jimmy Young, Director of Maintenance at Keeneland Race Course and explained to him what I will be doing this summer and that I wanted to visit him and his staff to experience what it takes to prepare for opening day and the upcoming racing season. After speaking with him, he invited me down for a visit to Lexington, KY and work side-by-side with the turf track and Polytrack superintendent to pick their brain. I hoped in my car Wednesday and drove from Purdue down to Lexington, slept on friends couch, and woke up before the sun Thursday at 5:30 a.m. to head to the horse track. I was beyond excited when I arrived at the track and was going to make the most out of this great learning opportunity. I met with Jim and his staff for a morning meeting and talked about what was on today's agenda and had a nice cup of coffee with some good ole Kentucky boys. I started out the first half of the day with Fred, the Polytrack superintendent. We headed to the race track and I picked his brain and learned all about the first of its kind to be installed at such a facility.  The Polytrack is composed of 80% river-bed sand, and  20% shredded carpet and rubber fibers, crumb rubber, and a glue to hold structure. It takes many different peieces of equipment such as a gallop master, harrows, spring tines, and tillage. It does not to be maintained with supplemental irrigration to maintain optimal moisture. At lunch I switched and went the Mark, the turf track superintendent. The turf track is composed of Turf Type Tall Fescue with three different varities.  It is cut between 4"-5" at racing height and maintenance height is 3".  It gets solid-tine aerated two times a year with a vert-drain down to 12" on 3" spacing. It is over seeded and topdressed with sand two times a year. The turf track receives 5 lbs N/1000 sq. ft annually along with a judicious use of fungicides to combat with the transition zone weather.  At the end of the day, I could not have asked for a better learning opportunity with a world class horse racing track maintenance department, and an invitiation to come back down for opening day and have the best seats in all of Keeneland along side with the maintenance staff.  I would like to thank Kenneland Race Course and Jimmy Young for taking the time in allowing me to visit and pick the brains of the superintendents to learn everything that goes in to horse track maintenance. Stay tuned for future blog postings on my summer internship in Ireland and Scotland.

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