Following more than 24 hours of rain in the Southern California area, Santa Anita canceled its Feb. 6 card, which included three important graded stakes. The synthetic surface again failed to drain, causing the fourth cancellation during the current meet.
“We had a lot of rain overnight, and the track wasn’t able to handle it,” said Mike Willman, Santa Anita’s director of publicity. “We’re optimistic about tomorrow because the weather system is supposed to blow out of here by the afternoon.”
Five stakes were scheduled for the card, two of them major 3-year-old preps. American Lion , Tiz Chrome and Dave in Dixie were among the seven slated to run in the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II),a $150,000 event for 3-year-olds. Blind Luck headlined the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies. Four-year-olds, led by Misremembered were to meet in the $200,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II), an important prep for the March 6 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). The program also included Battle of Hastings and Fluke in the Leroidesanimaux Handicap and older fillies and mares in the Wishing Well Handicap.
All of these stakes were rescheduled for Feb. 13. They will be redrawn and all horses that were nominated are eligible to be entered. The Santa Maria Handicap (gr. II) will also be carded as originally scheduled on Feb. 13.
The $65,000 Leroidesanimaux Handicap and the $60,000 Wishing Well Handicap will be redrawn and carded for Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, one each day.
Santa Anita lost three days of racing when a series of rainstorms hit the area last month. The track had to cancel a holiday card Jan. 18 as well as the Jan. 21-22 weekday programs. This is the first time this season that the track has lost a weekend card.
The difficulties stem from the original Cushion Track surface installed at Santa Anita in 2007. Santa Anita lost 11 cards during the 2007-08 season. The track replaced the Cushion Track with a Pro-Ride surface in the summer of 2008, though management has said it couldn’t get rid of all the original sand that apparently caused the drainage problem. Santa Anita did not lose any cards during the 2008-09 season, which didn’t receive as much rain as the year before.
Santa Anita president Ron Charles announced before the last batch of cancellations that Santa Anita would replace its surface following this season’s meet. An announcement on the type of surface has not been made, though speculation is that Santa Anita will return to a dirt track.
California’s major tracks all have synthetic surfaces because of a mandate by the California Horse Racing Board. It is expected that the CHRB will waive that mandate should Santa Anita or another track request a return to a dirt surface. Each California track has a different type of synthetic surface. Hollywood Park has a Cushion Track, Del Mar has Polytrack, and Golden Gate Fields has Tapeta.
The rain in the current system began the morning of Feb. 5. Horses worked at both Hollywood and Santa Anita that morning. The bulk of the storm fell on the area overnight, dumping about 3 1/2 inches of rain at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita will be open Feb. 6 for simulcast racing from around the country, and admission and parking is free.
Santa Anita’s Feb. 7 card includes the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) for older horses, also major prep for the Santa Anita Handicap. It is part of a program with an early post time of 11 a.m. PST because of the Super Bowl.