When you think about everything a day at the track involved, the track maintenance crew might not be the first thing to pop in your mind. But, dang, it’s so important to everything that you see on that track. I had the chance to spend some time with Roy Smith, who is in charge of track maintenance at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and I have to say, learning about how they maintain the track surfaces definitely made for an interesting afternoon at Indiana Grand.
One thing is a must, the horses must have a safe track to race on and that’s where Roy and his crew come in. Did you know that Indiana Grand Race Course has two courses? One dirt and one turf. The main track is a one-mile dirt course and inside is a seven-eighths mile turf or grass course.
I love taking care of my yard but taking care of those tracks this is a whole new level of maintenance I wasn’t aware of and it was pretty cool to see the maintenance team in action. Roy’s 40 years of experience keeps him motivated to provide a safe racing surface for both horse and jockey. Just like a human running on concrete, if the dirt or turf isn’t the right consistency, it can be hard on the horse’s feet and legs. The surface that Roy and his team provide is like a good cushioned running shoe that you or I might wear on a run!
In between each horse race, there come the tractors to till and keep the dirt fresh. The dirt has to be just right for the horses to run at their full potential. The work that goes into keeping the dirt just right, frankly is a work of art. It’s all about the health of the horse. If it rains too much, if it hasn’t rained enough, the dirt has to be treated properly. The dirt is a special blended of silt, sand and clay. Just like we fix our divots and ball marks on the golf course, the divots on the grass course must be fixed and patched up to avoid injury.
Now for the turf, that sweet Kentucky Blue Grass! In the spring, the team covers it with a blanket. This keeps the ground warm which causes the grass to grow faster and stronger and get ready for a season of turf racing. To keep it the precise length, the crew uses special lawnmowers. The result of all that work? A sweet green blanket of Kentucky Blue Grass primed for horse racing on turf!
Anytime I’m out at Indiana Grand moving forward, I have a whole new appreciate for how much the maintenance team puts into the track health to keep the horses and jockeys safe on each run.
Watch WRTV for more episodes of Run for the Money with Producer Kyle in the coming weeks!