Santa Anita’s main track opened for training Dec. 22 after 3 1/2 weeks of drainage renovation work kept the track closed. Though equine traffic appeared somewhat light and several horses continued to go to the training track, horses were galloping and working over the surface.
Ron Charles, president of Santa Anita, stood at Clocker’s Corner watching the horses go by as several trainers en route to watching their horses gave him a thumbs up on the surface. Charles said that the track is draining better, but he is continuing to consult experts in an effort to improve the drainage.
“Even though it’s not draining to specifications, it has improved and we’re hoping that will remain so,” Charles said. “The horsemen have been so patient, which we have really appreciated.”
Santa Anita installed a Cushion Track synthetic surface for the fall Oak Tree Racing Association meeting as part of a California Horse Racing Board mandate that all major tracks have a synthetic surface by the end of 2007. Hollywood Park also has Cushion Track, while Del Mar installed Polytrack and Golden Gate Fields put in Tapeta. Bay Meadows received a one-year waiver on the rule from the CHRB.
Upon completion of the Oak Tree meeting Nov. 4, Santa Anita officials discovered that the new surface was not draining properly because fine sand and wax were clogging the asphalt base. The renovation project, which began Dec. 5 and was delayed due to rain and because it took longer than expected, involved removing the material down to the base, cleaning the asphalt, and then mixing in coarser sand and more synthetic materials.
Santa Anita will take entries Dec. 23 for its first two programs, Dec. 26 and Dec. 28.