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Champion Gio Ponti is an example of a horse who excelled on both grass and synthetic surfaces. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

Predicting how a horse will fare in its turf debut can be akin to walking through a minefield. Sometimes, though, there are loud hints from an unexpected source that should not be ignored.

Take Coffee Clique. She made her turf debut in a Feb. 2 race at Gulfstream Park in an allowance affair filled with opponents who had experience on grass.

Yet a look at Coffee Clique’s past performances indicated she would be competitive in her turf debut. Her last race (Jan. 1) on dirt was a 14-length loss. Prior to that, though, came a one-length victory on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Woodbine in a career debut.

Tip 2-25Inside

Those two vastly different performances showed a preference for a synthetic surface, which often equates to a fondness for turf.

In Coffee Clique’s case, her winning form on Polytrack translated into a 1 ¾-length victory on turf and a nice $18 payoff.

The lesson: Dirt, turf and synthetics are considered different surfaces, but if there’s  a correlation between two of them it would be turf and synthetics. Using that rule of thumb can often predict how a successful turf runner might fare on synthetics and how a solid synthetics runner might handle turf.

RACING 101: TRACK SURFACES

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Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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