New environmental laws in New York state are mandating changes in the way that horses are bathed--at public facilities, anyway. Until recently, horses at racetracks were bathed and had their legs hosed for a good part of each morning. The resulting runoff made the backside of the flat track look like the land of 10,000 puddles.
And when a car went by, your designer shoes just might get splashed, to say nothing of your fabulous hat. (Mine would be splashed too if I wore designer shoes or fabulous hats. Maybe next year.)
The puddles were a nuisance but hoses and horses are synonymous at the racetrack and the same was true across the street at the harness track and probably down at the polo stables too.
The Saratogian has a story about how puddle-free the backstretch will become in the next few years, thanks to a new law in New York that requires limitations on agricultural runoff water. Twelve new washracks at the harness track and six new racks at the flat track will test a new surface called Flexi-Pave, which is a porous "paver" surface that acts like a big sponge and sends water down into a drainage bed beneath the surface instead of letting it puddle on the surface.
If the racks live up to their billing and the horsemen approve, more racks will be installed next year.
Flexi-Pave sounds like it is a distant cousin to Polytrack. The manufacturer grinds up old car tires and pounds the pulp into paving; it takes about eight tires to make a square foot of wash rack surface, or 768 tires for each 12x8 pad, if I did the math correctly.
So far, I haven't been able to find the new wash racks; everyone is creating puddles as per usual at most of the barns. I will take some photos and add them to this post as soon as I find them!
If trainers continue to be enamored with the "hot" new cold therapy products like Game Ready and the MacKinnon Ice Boot, Saratoga may become a hose-free zone and need some agricultural laws about dust control in a few years.