Photos: Leif Dickinson (left) and Kenny Wilson (Hoofprints Inc. photo)
1S/T RACING has brought in two new track superintendents to supervise the racing and training surfaces at Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows. Leif Dickinson, who comes to Florida after serving as the superintendent at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for 18 years, oversees the turf courses. Kenny Wilson is in charge of the dirt and Tapeta courses at both facilities. He was most recently the track supervisor for the New York Racing Association and was previously the track superintendent at Delaware Park.
“I can’t think of two more qualified track experts than Leif and Kenny,” 1S/T RACING’s Chief Operating Officer Aidan Butler said. “Leif is equal parts scientist and artist and is incredibly passionate about his work. Kenny, too, has that passion, and coming from a racing family, he knows how to connect with the horsemen and women and the jockeys. They are powerful additions to the 1S/T RACING team and their appointments reinforce our company’s commitment to creating the safest possible training and racing surfaces in the industry.”
Dickinson, 1S/T Racing’s Director of Turf Surfaces, earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Maine, and also holds a degree in horticulture from Mount San Antonio in California. He has expertise in pesticides, arboriculture and irrigation technology. Before his stint at Del Mar, he was with Santa Anita for 15 years. Dickinson has come a long way since leaving his hometown of tiny Lisbon Falls, Maine, population 4,079.
“Originally, I planned on a career in professional football or baseball, but I always wanted to focus on sports turf,” he said. “The opportunity in horse racing came along first, and I’ve also done polo and hunter/jumper, which they have at Del Mar. Now I have a new opportunity here in South Florida.”
It was only natural for Wilson, 1S/T RACING’S Track Superintendent, to find his calling at the racetrack. He is the son of jockey Rick Wilson and grew up in racing. He started out working for the track maintenance team in Maryland, then was hired by Delaware Park in 2016 and joined NYRA in 2017.
“I was born into the sport,” Wilson said. “I did construction for a while, but when the opportunity came up, I accepted a job with the maintenance crew at Laurel. I stayed in it because I love the game. I love seeing the horses, I love running heavy equipment. I’m where I want to be, doing what I love.”
Butler added, “The safety of the horses and riders is our priority at 1S/T RACING. Leif and Kenny have only been on board for a few weeks, but we have already seen the impact of the good work they do, and we believe the owners and trainers will continue to see positive changes in our track surfaces.”