Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Race Track and Arena Surface Testing

Track Surfaces Advisory Group

The Track Surfaces Advisory Group (TSAG) was formed by RSTL in 2023.  The TSAG includes Thoroughbred racetrack superintendents and managers with maintenance and oversight experience with all types of surfaces and in a wide range of climates.  The TSAG also includes members with experience in track installation and renovation projects for turf, dirt, and synthetic surfaces.  

In the event a racetrack should experience a period of concern, the TSAG is available to evaluate the racetrack, provide assistance to the racetrack, and provide information for regulators.

Committee Members

Jim Pendergest; Chairman

Director of Racing Surfaces, Keeneland; General Manager, The Thoroughbred Center.

Pendergest has supervised installation of six race tracks, 10 training tracks and more than 20 equine arenas in the U.S. and Canada including installation of the Keeneland all-weather surface in 2006 and the Keeneland dirt surface in 2014.

Leif Dickinson

Turf Superintendent, 1/ST Racing / Gulfstream Park / Palm Meadows Training Center

Dickinson oversaw the installation of two new turf tracks at Santa Anita and a new turf track at Del Mar with the first successful use of fiber reinforcement on both surfaces. He received his Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Maine and is an ISA certified arborist.

Sean Gault

Retired Director of Thoroughbred Racing Surfaces for the Woodbine Entertainment Group at Woodbine Racetrack

Gault oversaw Woodbine’s two turf tracks, the main Tapeta track, and both training tracks. He was also responsible for the installation of the new inner turf track in 2018. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph.

Glen Kozak

Vice President of Facilities and Racing Surfaces, NYRA

Kozak leads facility and track operations for NYRA properties, which include Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack and others. Prior to joining NYRA, Kozak worked for the Maryland Jockey Club as vice president of facilities and racing surfaces.

Jake Leitzel

Manager of Racetrack Maintenance, Penn National

Leitzel provides guidance and training to racetrack superintendents at all Penn Entertainment Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racetracks.  

Dennis moore

Track Superintendent, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Racing Surface Consultant, 1/ST Racing

In addition to his current roles, Moore has also overseen track surface operations at Hollywood Park, where he was instrumental in the development of the synthetic track maintenance procedures, and at Remington Park, where he oversaw the installation of the first synthetic racing surface in the U.S. in 1987.

James “Jamie” Richardson

Track Superintendent, Churchill Downs

Richardson previously served as track superintendent at Oaklawn Park, prior to that as track superintendent for the Maryland Jockey Club at Timonium, and also worked on opening Colonial Downs while working there for 10 years.

Kaleb Dempsey; ex-officio

Chief Technical Officer, Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Dempsey has been involved in thoroughbred horse racing dating back to 2013 performing research on synthetic racetracks. He has extensively performed testing on racing surfaces across the country with a focus on bringing new technologies and testing methods to the industry for safety, performance, and research purposes. B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Washington, Bothell.

Mackenzie Rockefeller; ex-officio

Laboratory Manager, Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Rockefeller has been an equestrian since childhood, actively competing in show jumping. She primarily oversees the daily operations of RSTL and the Maintenance Quality System database. She has also worked with University of Melbourne and Racing Victoria conducting racetrack surveys across Victoria, AU. She received her Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and Management from the University of Kentucky.