Keeneland – “Turf to Synthetic”

excerpt from “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” 

In the last six meetings 174 winners have moved from turf to the main track at Keeneland to record a victory. 

It wasn’t that long ago that horse players faced a new factor in the handicapping process. In the past players were only concerned about racing on dirt or turf. Shortly after the turn of the century, the first serious attempt to use synthetic, or all-weather surfaces, arose and quite a few tracks now have something other than the traditional dirt track. The reasons for the change were improved safety for horses, better drainage, and of course, a fair, usable surface regardless of the weather conditions. Keeneland went to an all-weather surface in the fall of 2006.

Keeneland is not a “home” type of track where horses hang out for many months and do all of their racing. It is a transient place because the two meetings are very, very short. The brevity of the Keeneland meetings places a premium on handicapping and the all-weather main track adds another ingredient in the mixing bowl.

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Some handicapping experts seem to favor the notion that racing on all-weather surfaces is far more appealing to turf runners than traditional dirt surfaces. Reviewing the last six meetings at Keeneland (Spring/Fall 2010, Spring/Fall 2011, and Spring/Fall 2012) provides evidence to support the notion. In the last six meetings 174 winners have moved from turf to the main track at Keeneland to record a victory. That’s a pretty big number (19%) considering there were only 912 races total (including both main track and turf) in those six meetings.

Many winners can be found moving from turf to Keeneland’s all-weather from tracks such Arlington Park, Fair Grounds and Saratoga. It will be wise to think twice before discarding a turf shipper coming into Keeneland and running on the main track.

— Art Parker is the author of the recently release “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”– 2013 spring meet edition available here at

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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