With bright sunshine in abundance for the first time since Jan. 17, Santa Anita Park's main track has been declared fit and ready for live racing the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 23 by jockeys and horsemen alike. The turf course, however, is still too wet to be fit for racing.
“It’s great to be back in action,” said Santa Anita president Ron Charles in a statement, after conferring with a group of jockeys and trainers early Saturday morning. “Our track superintendent, Rich Tedesco has done a tremendous job getting this track ready. Although we’ve had more than eight inches of rain this week, it’s draining much better now and we’re ready to go this afternoon.
“The forecast is good for today and tomorrow and we’re looking forward to some great racing. As we’ve said all along, safety is our number one priority and that’s why we wanted to be sure and consult with the riders this morning and get their blessing.
“A lot of people depend on our live racing here at Santa Anita, including of course, our customers. We want to welcome everyone back, and we’re hopeful we can get back on a regular schedule. As we’ve said, we’re going to be changing surfaces at the end of the meet in April and we’re just going to be very careful as to how we proceed in the event we get additional significant rain in the weeks to come.
“As far as the turf course goes, it is still too wet to run on today, but we’re very hopeful we’ll be able to run the (gr. II) San Marcos on the grass tomorrow.”
Veteran jockey Martin Pedroza gave the Pro Ride surface his endorsement after exercising several horses over it the morning of Jan. 23. “It feels good to me,” he said. “It’s a little heavy, but it feels good. It was firm and I didn’t have a horse bobble, stumble or take a bad step.”
Added trainer Dan Hendricks: “We knew the rain was coming for a week, so I think most of us got a lot of works and races in right before it happened. We’re going to start working tomorrow, so you’re looking at an extra day or two or three...so I don’t think it’s that bad. We’re back on it today and we’ll be working tomorrow, so as bad as the rains were, I think we made it through pretty good.”
Santa Anita will offer nine race cards both Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.
The current Santa Anita surface was not draining properly last week, which led to racing being canceled Jan. 18 and 22 when heavy rain hit Southern California.