The main track at Palm Meadows Training Center will reopen for training Thursday after being closed for 10 days for repairs.
Bill Badgett, executive director for Florida racing operations for center owner 1/ST Racing, told Horse Racing Nation the track was closed on Jan. 29 because of an "area of concern" near the one-eighth pole in mid-stretch of the 1 1/8-mile oval track.
Officials with the track, located in Boynton Beach, Fla., near Gulfstream Park, brought in Dennis Moore, “one of the main guys in the country when it comes to tracks,” Badgett said.
“Without kind of pulling the thing back and looking at it, we couldn't really tell what was wrong with it. So they decided to close the track for two days, which the horsemen were very good with.”
One thing led to another.
“Once they peeled the track back, it turned out there was a drain underneath the track, more of an irrigation pipe, I should say, that apparently had a leak in it,” Badgett said. “Now, obviously, being under the track, nobody knew about it. So it created a little bit of a soft spot at the eighth pole. So once they peeled that area back, which became an area of concern, and then they decided to go ahead … and take a look at the hole inside 45 feet of the track.”
As it turned out, that was “a smart thing to do because they did find a couple of other spots that they actually pulled back, re-filled in that surface, packed it down. And unfortunately it took a little bit longer than anticipated. But it's kind of a blessing in disguise because until you pull these things back and really take a closer look at them, you don't really know what's under there.”
To lessen the impact on trainers with horses at the center, “we created a shuttle service from Palm Meadows to Gulfstream so guys could shuttle down and breeze either on the dirt or Tapeta if they wanted to. So that kind of helped resolve some of their training issues where they wouldn't have been able to work or train.”
The turf track reopened Wednesday.
Danny Gargan, trainer of Kentucky Derby 2023 prospect Dubyuhnell, the project is something “they do in New York to all the tracks every year” and that it was the right step for Palm Meadows to take.
“I think management's done a way better job this year. Unfortunately, we missed a little bit of training and breezing. But they're doing the right thing. They're trying to make it better and saver for owners and horses, which I commend them for doing it. If we miss a race or so over it, then so be it, as long as our horses stay sound and stay healthy.”
Badgett agreed that ”the timing wasn't really the greatest.” In the future, he said, “we're going to create some times during the year from now on, mostly probably during the summer when we're quiet, where if we have to take a look at these things we'll have time to deal with them.”
Gargan said Dubyuhnell trained on Palm Meadows’s L-shaped chute and was shipped to Palm Beach Downs to breeze.
“I actually think Dubyuhnell trained better on the L than he did on the track. Because he gets aggressive when he's around other horses, and he's always got company on his breezes.”
Dubyuhnell is entered in Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream.