On opening night observers saw unusual proof of the track's merits. At the start of the second race, for greenish pacers, the pole horse went into a violent break and fell, jerking one leg completely out of her hobbles. There might have been a massive multi-horse accident. But Julie, the 3-year-old filly who fell, simply picked herself up and jogged back to the paddock, and all the other horses stayed smoothly on gait. On a dirt track Julie would have been badly skinned and bruised.
"She just got scared and broke when all those horses came pounding in on her," said Driver Denny Moore. "She'd never had the rail before. I doubt whether she would have been able to get up off a dirt track. Thanks to this one, she's all right. Nothing's hurt but my feelings."
Walter Gibbons, general manager of the Lexington, Ky. trotting track, probably spoke for the majority of low-budget track operators when he said: "If I could afford it, I would put it in."
Martin Tananbaum, president of New York's Yonkers Raceway, that thriving betting palace which, together with rival Roosevelt Raceway, accounts for nearly half the nation's harness racing pari-mutuel handle, was talking like a man who had already decided to get out his checkbook: "It costs us $200,000 a year to keep our half-mile track in shape. This thing could pay for itself in a few years. There is no question in my mind that the people who can afford it are going to buy it."
Meanwhile 3M is talking up Tartan for a dizzying array of other uses, including football fields. There is already an experimental 110-yard sprinter's track at California's San Jose State College, and Track Coach Bud Winter is delighted with its uniformity and springiness. Followers of track are aware, of course, that Bob Hayes achieved his 100-yard world record of 9.1 seconds the other day on a rubberized strip at St. Louis. Dirt and cinders, it seems, have never had it so bad.