The Birth of Aqueduct’s Inner Track

As the inner track opens for the 2013 winter meet, a look back into the archives, for how this unique racing surface came to be:

It was nearly 70 degrees in New York yesterday; warmer temperatures and delayed darkness have many of us thinking spring. And for New York racing fans, there is no surer sign of spring than the return at Aqueduct to the main track.

Racing on the inner track generally begins in early December, after the big stakes at the end of November—the Remsen, the Demoiselle, the Cigar Mile—have been run on the main track: the opening of the inner is the harbinger of the New York winter.

Until the early 1970’s, New York didn’t race in the winter. But as former NYRA track superintendent Joe King tells it, as off-track betting began to siphon on-track handle, NYRA made the decision to race more days each year, and that meant winter racing.

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