Santa Anita replaced its dirt track with the synthetic Cushion Track surface last summer, and like the other synthetic tracks at Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Golden Gate Fields, the Santa Anita engineered surface includes a vertical, piped, underground drainage system. However, problems with the Cushion Track surface composition at Santa Anita are preventing the drainage system from functioning properly, resulting in unsuitable racing conditions during heavy rains.
Richard Shapiro, chairman of the CHRB, said in a statement that he was calling the meeting "at the request of Santa Anita to amend their license application to permit them to run races in Inglewood if that becomes necessary, which hopefully it won't."
The meeting will be conducted by telephone and will be accessible to the public at several locations.
"If the problem is something that cannot be corrected reasonably quickly, and if it is going to take weeks to get Santa Anita back in shape for racing, then I certainly as one individual commissioner would advocate that we as a board adopt an emergency measure, so that we would be able to shift racing over to Hollywood Park until the Santa Anita track is once again suitable for racing," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said executives at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park agree "we need to take whatever action is necessary for the welfare of our industry."
The board issued a mandate last year requiring all California racetracks offering four weeks or more of continuous Thoroughbred racing to install a synthetic surface.
"We took this very bold step because we were seeing too many equine injuries, too many equine fatalities, and declining field sizes," Shapiro said. "After months of deliberation and public comment, the board adopted the mandate. At the time the mandate was approved, all segments of the industry were unanimously in support of the board's action.
"I still believe in our decision. These synthetic surfaces, despite their newness and the learning curve to properly maintain them, have contributed to a nearly 50-percent decrease in equine racing fatalities.
"At Santa Anita right now we have a specific problem with one track, which should not be an indictment of synthetic surfaces."
John Harris, CHRB vice chairman John Harris added, "I am very pleased that Hollywood Park has offered the use of their track if a longer-term fix is needed at Santa Anita. We are fortunate that a good option is available."
The meeting will commence at 11 a.m. The teleconference locations, each of which will be accessible to the public, are as follows: 5000 N. Parkway Calabasas, Suite 210, Calabasas; CHRB Headquarters Conference Room, 1010 Hurley Way, Suite 300, Sacramento; Hollywood Park Turf Club Board Room, 1050 S. Prairie Ave., Inglewood; Golden Gate Fields Administrative Office Conference Room, 1100 E. Shore Highway, Albany; 220 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo; University of California School of Law, Boalt Hall, Office 431 North, Berkeley; 23300 W. Oakland Ave., Coalinga; and Santa Anita Park Conference Room, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.