Technology Aids Maintenance of Keeneland’s New Dirt Track

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LEXINGTON, KY (Aug. 28, 2014) – Keeneland will employ state-of-the-art GPS technology to monitor and collect detailed information about the condition of the main dirt track.

The data gained will be an invaluable tool in outlining proper maintenance, which is key to making the track as safe as possible for horse and rider.

GPS-enabled equipment allows for careful monitoring of the consistency of the dirt racing surface. Maintaining proper consistency and controlling the migration of the surface are critical to the performance of any track.

The Kentucky branch of SITECH Mid-South LLC engineering installed the GPS technology in a Caterpillar grader, rover receiver and sled owned by Keeneland. The GPS works in concert with receivers mounted on the equipment and approximately 15 satellites to determine track position. The track coordinates were mapped by engineers with ABR Construction Inc.

Keeneland’s GPS-enhanced equipment includes:

  • GPS Flex-Grade Control System grader – A grader has been outfitted with an arm on each side that holds a receiver which transmits to a satellite. The receivers pinpoint where the grader is on the track and sends information to the central control system. That system automatically sets the grader’s blade at the correct elevation for that spot on the track.
  • SPS-855 Rover Receiver – Equipped with one receiver on an attached rod, the rover follows the grader on the track to test and confirm the accuracy of its grading.
  • S-Type Load Cell Equipped Soil Probe- ABR Construction has designed and constructed a probe rod equipped with a load cell and battery operated digital readout that is used to evaluate the depth and consistency of the hardpan. Easy to use and with data that is instantaneous and understandable, the probe means no lost time in waiting for reports. Highly mobile and easy to transport, this sophisticated piece of equipment can be employed to generate large volumes of valuable data that the operator compiles to map and evaluate the hardpan condition of the track over time.
  • 3 in 1 Monitoring Sled – Recognizing the importance of maintaining proper footing thickness, ABR Construction designed and constructed a multipurpose sled that is pulled along the track by a service vehicle. With the machine grade receivers transferred from the grader to the sled, and independently moving feet that float over the surface, the operator can instantaneously view on a screen any changes of the track geometry.
  • A second soil probe, mounted on the rear of the sled and advanced into the footing with a hydraulic ram, will allow the operator to obtain even more consistent measurements of the hardpan.
  • Because moisture content is a key factor in the performance of any dirt track, Keeneland has installed moisture content detectors. These units which have ceramic heads and are accurate to 1/10 percent, are in each foot of the sled, directly under the GPS receiver and will give instantaneous moisture readings of the track, (4 readings per second) as the sled is pulled over the surface. This will allow the operator to obtain literally thousands of data points that, when coupled with data on wind speed, direction, evaporation rates and rainfall events, will assist maintenance crews in tracking trends and making predictions of moisture conditions in the track footing. 


Keeneland Association, Inc. 4201 Versailles Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40510
Telephone: (859) 254-3412 Toll Free: (800) 456-3412 Fax: (859) 255-2484

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