The surface that thoroughbred horses train on is very important; at the Stonestreet Training Center in Ocala, Florida, trainer Ian Brennan keeps a close eye on all aspects of the track’s health including its depth, grade and the percentage of dirt versus clay.
Continuous maintenance is vital to the safety and successful training of the horses working on it. The track is harrowed (the process of breaking up the surface and smoothing it out) daily and, every three months, the surface is graded to ensure evenness of depth.
Several different factors, including wind and rain, cause the dirt and clay mixture to run off. This gradual loss of material means that every four to five years a total track renovation is in order. We followed this process while it occurred recently at our Training Center in Ocala.
To begin the renovation, large tractors peeled back the existing surface. Peeling the original surface away allows the new materials to be mixed evenly as well as access to the base, the integrity of which is checked.
Forty-two loads of red clay were then loaded into spreaders for dispersal over the track. The spreading of the new and existing material was alternated for even blending until the combination of 60% clay and 40% dirt was reached. Once spreading was complete, the track was graded to a consistent depth of seven inches.
After five days of work, the entire renovation process is complete and ready to be worked on safely for another four to five years.
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