Gulfstream Park officials have confirmed that a Tapeta track will be installed on the outer half of the current turf course, with construction slated to begin June 7. The installation is expected to be completed in August.
“We are refreshing the inner turf course now,” said Billy Badgett, Executive Director of Florida Racing Operations. “After the Tapeta surface is installed, we will put in a brand new turf course inside the Tapeta track, with the dirt to the outside of the Tapeta.
“We are also installing a brand new drainage system for the turf course, which we never had before,” Badgett added. “When it rains, the turf course will dry out a lot quicker.”
The Tapeta track will be 60 feet wide and accommodate a maximum field size of 12.
Construction crews will work mainly at night. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, crews will work from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.; racedays, they will work from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.
“Everybody is very excited,” Badgett said. “This will help us when we have to take races off the turf. Right now, we have fields of 12 that scratch down to four, and we get crushed on handle. We’ve done our homework, and the fields in off-the-turf races that have synthetic tracks really hold together.”
He believes bettors will adapt to the surface change.
“Our research shows that when races are moved from the turf to the Tapeta, the results are true to form,” he remarked. “That’s good for gamblers.”
If the main track is deemed unsafe due to heavy rains or other weather conditions, dirt races potentially could be moved to the Tapeta surface for the safety of horses and riders.
The installation of the new Tapeta track and turf course is the biggest project at Gulfstream, with a new tote board also in the plans. Work will soon be underway at Palm Meadows in the wake of the Calder closing.
“We are building 350 new stalls at Palm Meadows, and two new dorm buildings that will house 600 people,” Badgett said. “They should be ready on October, ahead of the Championship Meet.”