Very interesting way to put it. Dam I miss dirt-
http://horseracing.bloginky.com/2009/10 ... on-velcro/
Shirreffs: Running on synthetics like running on velcro
Posted by Alicia Wincze on October 6, 2009
With the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park just one month away and Keeneland’s Fall meet kicking off this Friday, one can bet the already heated debate surrounding the merits of synthetic tracks will be continue to be one of the foremost issues in the racing community.
California-based trainer John Shirreffs, who conditions undefeated champion Zenyatta, has long been a vocal opponent of synthetic tracks and, during a national teleconference today, he detailed why he feels the surface does more harm than good in developing young prospects.
“I personally hate synthetics,” Shirreffs said. “I’m more into developing young horses and I find that young horses really don’t like training on synthetics. I don’t know if you can imagine training on Velcro. When the foot lands, it doesn’t slide, it sticks to the ground. Depending on how synthetic the surface is, the horse can’t rotate the foot into the track and push off.
“Imagine running around flat-footed all the time without getting up on your toes and pushing off,” Shirreffs continued. “That’s probably how it would feel to a human.”
Initially touted as a safer surface, synthetics have come under enhanced scrutiny of late - particularly in California where the racing board mandated in 2006 all its tracks must switch to the surface - thanks to a rash of breakdowns that plagued the Del Mar meet and a handful of injuries that have already taken place during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet.
Despite Shirreffs’ dislike of synthetics, Zenyatta has made all but one of her 12 career starts on such tracks with her lone dirt win coming when she defeated then-champion Ginger Punch in the 2008 Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn.
While the massive mare has had little trouble showcasing her devastating closing kick on synthetics, Shirreffs believes the racing world would see an even more dominant Zenyatta were she campaigned on dirt.
“There is no doubt in my mind watching her train every day and watching her train that one year at Oaklawn that she’s better on dirt,” he said.
Zenyatta is slated to go for her 13th consecutive win this Saturday when she starts in the Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita Park. While owners Jerry and Ann Moss have left open the possibility Zenyatta could face males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year rather than attempting to defend her title in the Ladies’ Classic, Shirreffs remained non committal on the issue.
“It’s a discussion I haven’t had with (wife and racing manager) Dottie (Ingordo-Shirreffs) of the Mosses yet,” Shirreffs said. “I think you would have to look at everything involved, the size of the field, the level of competition, who is going to show up (in the Classic). Zenyatta is so special to us and we want to make sure we put her in the right race.”