The cancellation decision was announced just before 11:30 a.m. PST.
“Based on input from the riders and in the interest of safety, we made the decision to cancel,” said George Haines, Santa Anita’s general manager. “We thought it was the best course of action to cancel. The riders voiced concern about the consistency in the track’s surface. The weather is spotty today, and there is supposed to be more rain tonight.”
Track officials met with several riders at about 10:30 a.m. after jockey Aaron Gryder galloped a horse around the Cushion Track and horsemen walked part of the track in the stretch. The jockeys agreed to give management another hour to work on the racetrack, which is plagued by vertical drainage problems. Rain began again as the jockeys were walking the track a second time, and at that point the decision was made to cancel.
“The track is inconsistent and slick in some spots,” said Jockey Guild representative Darrell Haire, speaking for the jockeys. “Many of these jockeys have ridden on some bad tracks and they take care of each other. But we just don’t know what would happen when a rider had to steady and check.”
Scratches had already drastically reduced the number of starters in many of the races. The eighth race, an allowance event originally carded for 6 1/2 furlongs, had only two starters remaining when the races were canceled.
Rain checks were being issued to fans already in attendance, though simulcast continued.
Haines said that cancellation decisions will continue to be made on a day-to-day basis. Santa Anita is scheduled to race Jan. 7, and then be dark on Jan. 8-9.