Churchill Downs kicked off its opening night on April 30 for a season of horse racing. Not just any horse racing – turf racing. This newly revamped track has a $10 million lawn debuted and was a huge improvement from the old turf, which many say was not holding up well. The old mix was four-inch high Kentucky 31 Fescue (90%) and Bluegrass (10%) grown in a three-inch topsoil layer over a 13-inch course masonry sand base. The new turf course is Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass overseeded with ryegrass. Tahoma 31 is a variety we have at West Coast Turf and is the most water-saving of all the varieties we use. Currently, we have Tahoma at Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, and Dignity Health Sports Park (home of the L.A. Galaxy soccer club).

A little trivia: John Foster had the #2 horse in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the dirt surface last year, Hot Rod Charlie, and just got a horse named Tahoma! This Saturday, the country’s most elite racehorses will make their “run for the roses” during the Kentucky Derby. 

Why is the Tahoma 31 such a huge improvement on the turf course? Award-winning jockey, Julien Leparoux, says, “For some reason in the spring, the turf course was actually good and by the time we come back in September it was… the opposite of this (new) turf course now. It felt like, even if we didn’t have any rain, it felt we had like 10 inches of rain the day before the races. It was crazy. The horses were going down pretty deep. A lot of kickback. So, I’m glad they fixed it.”

Said jockey Declan Cannon, “With the old course the roots system was dead and there was no growth. And basically, it needed redoing. It had run its course. It just really needed to be replaced.” Churchill jockey Corey Lanerie concurred, “I’m happy to see them invest money in it and redo it because the other one was getting pretty chewed up, and it wasn’t holding together. So, it’ll be safer for the horses and the jockeys.”

In addition to the new mix of grass, they have improved drainage, and the removal of a crown on the outer part of the old course. The crown was there for drainage, but effectively eliminated that part of the course for running. Providing this new turf for the efficiency, and especially safety, of the jockeys and horses is crucial.  For more information, visit our website at: https://www.westcoastturf.com/

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