The New York Racing Association announced Dec. 3 the successful installation of a Tapeta Footings synthetic surface at the Belmont Park pony track. The renovation of the pony track is an element of the ongoing campaign to modernize the Belmont Park facility.
Located just to the northeast of the Belmont training track, the quarter-mile pony track is primarily utilized for jogging horses. Beginning Dec. 6, the pony track will be open seven days a week, from 5:30-10:30 a.m. ET.
In addition to providing horsemen with another all-weather training option, the new Belmont pony track will yield important information on how a synthetic surface performs in the wide range of weather conditions encountered at Belmont throughout the year. The data and knowledge gained through daily maintenance of the new pony track will inform a variety of decisions should NYRA proceed with the construction of a synthetic track as the fourth Belmont racing surface.
Before installing the synthetic surface, NYRA crews removed the dirt surface and added an asphalt base layer specifically designed to promote maximum drainage. From there, the track was widened and leveled throughout, which reduced the angles on all turns. The new pony track features a rider protection system to replace the inner rail, as well as LED lighting throughout the circumference of the track. To accommodate the expected increase in its use, the apron and track access road have been widened and rebuilt.
"Modern synthetic surfaces have a wide range of applications for horsemen and track operators alike, and we look forward to working with the product every day and in all seasons at Belmont Park," said Glen Kozak, NYRA senior vice president, operations and capital projects.
Beyond the new pony track, the project to construct vehicular and pedestrian tunnels to the 45-acre Belmont Park infield is on-schedule. When complete, the tunnels will serve as a conduit to the infield for commercial vehicles allowing NYRA to reconstruct the Belmont main track and its two turf courses. The pedestrian tunnels will eventually provide infield access to fans and the broader community.
Substantial work on the existing racetracks will commence following the completion of the 2023 Belmont spring/summer meet.
Developed as an alternative to dirt by former jockey and current trainer Michael Dickinson, Tapeta is a synthetic racing and training surface comprised of a mixture of silica sand, wax, and fibers. Tapeta has been extensively tested at racing and training facilities throughout the world and remains extremely consistent in both cold conditions and heavy rain.