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Track Materials

Everyone knows that the weather can drastically impact a track. Regardless of if it is turf, dirt, or synthetic the condition of the track can change drastically. In the worst circumstances a race might end up cancelled if the track is too dangerous to run on.

Dirt Tracks

This track is the most common racing surface in North America by far. This track can be harder for a horse to run on, and they tire faster. The status of the track is very important in betting on horse races, as some horses will excel in some conditions and run terribly in others. For example, some horses may not mind a wet track, but get spooked by too much splashing. Some gamblers make a point of getting to the track when it’s muddy as “mud horses” seem to delight in the mess of the track and have faster than average times.

Dirt Track Conditions:

Fast – A dry track, typically has very fast race times.
Wet-Fast – A very thin layer of water over top of the dirt. Still produces very fast race times.
Good – This track is drying out, but is producing slower times than a Fast track.
Muddy – This track is muddy, the horses hooves may sink down deep. Slow times, horses tire easily.
Sloppy – This track has enough water on the top to produce splashing as the horses race.
Frozen – This will typically result in race cancellations, this is an extremely hard surface to race on.
Slow – This surface is still drying out. This is a step down from Good but not as wet as Muddy.
Heavy – Very wet, and heavy on the horses’ legs. Race times are very slow, possibility of injury is high.

Turf Tracks

Turf tracks may not be as common in the US, but the turf track is considered to be safer for the horses. The idea is that the dense root system offered by the grass does not allow the horse’s hooves to sink as far down as they do in the dirt tracks. This can vary between European and US tracks as European tracks the turf can be softer and and more yielding, very simliar to a dirt track. Some horses who do not impress on the dirt track may excel on the turf, and vice versa. Regardless of dirt or turf, ‘natural’ tracks are much preferred by gamblers.

Dirt Track Conditions:

Firm – A dry course with slight give to it. The turf’s version of the dirt track’s “fast”.
Good – A “Firm” track with a little more moisture. This track has slightly more give.
Soft – This track is fairly wet and even more give.
Yielding – This turf is very wet and deep. Noticeably slower race times.
Heavy – This turf is waterlogged and very deep. Heavy on the horse’s legs and causes very slow times.

Synthetic Tracks

The synthetic tracks are a point of great controversy. They are advertised to be the same as a dirt track but with less maintenance and safer for the horses. This has yet to be proven. These tracks can be harder to maintain, and at times do not drain the rain as well as a dirt track. The conditions on these tracks are listed the same as Dirt Tracks.