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BATAVIA DOWNS INSTALLING EUROTRACK; NEW STRIP SHOULD INCREASE SPEED, SAFETY

EuroTrack, the innovative racing track which has helped many trotters and pacers rewrite the record books, will be installed at Batavia and will be ready when the Downs opens its 50th anniversary season Aug. 1.

The Downs will be the first half-mile track in North America to have the revolutionary new racing strip.

"Our fans are going to see a 'new' Batavia Downs as we enter our second half-century of racing," said Barbara P. Samberg, track president.

"With the new EuroTrack and the slanted starting gate, these moves should help us to new levels of speed, safety, consistency and betability," said Samberg. She placed the cost at approximately $50,000.

Chuck Coon, former race-starter at the Downs, will return to supervise the installation of EuroTrack. Coon, of Pontiac, Mich., completed this continent's first EuroTrack at Rosecroft last fall when he also converted the Maryland track from a half-miler to a 5/8 -mile track. His firm also installed EuroTrack at Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio.

The transformation of EuroTrack, which features super-elevated banked turns, is the latest in the state-of-the-art race track design. It was first introduced in Sweden in the early 1970s.

EuroTrack is designed to fit the horse, explains Coon, who designed the new system. "Horses do not break down, they go faster and they race more true to form. Horses do not have to switch gears, they can pace just as fast in the turns as in the stretch."

With the steeply banked turns and spiral connections, horses can comfortably carry their speed into and out of the turns.

"They're into the turns and out of them and onto the shorter straightaways before they realize it," said Coon.

"And drivers will be aware that the turns do not penalize horses racing on the outside," he said. "They (the drivers) will be more aggressive throughout the race, regardless of where they are positioned. Horses can race much wider in the turns without losing ground."

With EuroTrack there is no hub rail. The dangerous aluminum hub (inside) rail has already been removed at Batavia and will be replaced with flexible synthetic pylons spaced 40 feet apart in the stretches and at 20-foot intervals in the turns. They will serve as guide posts.

With the removal of the hub rail, visibility increases for patrons, but, more importantly, the safety of the drivers and horses improves. Without the inner rail, drivers who may encounter trouble like a breaking horse in front or a pileup near the rail, now can more easily avert possible serious injury by moving inside into the infield.

Statistics on the improved speed by horses that race on Rosecroft's EuroTrack are eye-opening:

Rosecroft has recorded 37 miles in 1:55 already this season, while only 12 in that swift time were raced in 41 years before EuroTrack. On last Saturday's card, the average mile was 1:55 3/5 for 12 races. On the trot, Rosecroft has already had 46 2-minute miles this year compared to 33 during the track's first 41 years of racing.

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