The California Horse Racing Board, meeting in a brief emergency session by teleconference Jan. 8 following Santa Anita's canceled weekend Jan. 5-7, cleared the way for the Los Angeles Turf Club to move some or all of the 2008 winter/spring racing dates to Hollywood Park.
Santa Anita Park canceled live racing for Jan. 7 because of continued problems with its Cushion Track surface.
For the second straight day, Santa Anita Park officials canceled racing Jan. 6 due to concerns about the condition of the synthetic racing surface after recent heavy rainfall.
Santa Anita canceled racing Jan. 5, because the new Cushion Track is not draining properly. The track did an extensive renovation last month that was supposed to fix this problem. Five inches of rain have fallen, according to officials. More is expected tonight and could affect racing for the entire weekend.
Knee deep in controversy over drainage problems with Santa Anita's new synthetic racetrack and heavy rainfall expected this week, the company that installed the surface has acknowledged that the issue remains unresolved.
Waterford Stable's In Summation stalked a three-horse speed duel in a five-horse field and blew by late to win the Jan. 1 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) in track-record time for 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park.
The renovated Cushion Track at Santa Anita Park produced a track record at seven furlongs in the second race of the opening day card on Dec. 26. Bob Black Jack hit the wire in 1:20.37, .53 seconds faster than the previous mark set during the fall Oak Tree Association meet. While new surfaces always mean new records, the previous dirt record for seven furlongs set by Spectacular Bid in 1980 was 1:20.
Grade I winner Greg's Gold seeks his fourth victory of the season, but the 6-year-old gelding will have to carry top weight and deal with red-hot Unusual Suspect, a winner in three of his last four starts, in the $100,000 On Trust Handicap Dec. 22 at Hollywood Park.
Horses are expected to return to training on the main Santa Anita Park racing surface Dec. 22 following a renovation of the Cushion Track to fix a drainage problem.
The top three finishers from the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III), led by the unbeaten Massive Drama, will meet again in the Dec. 22 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
Rain has further delayed renovation of the Cushion Track at Santa Anita Park.
Zayat Stables' Maimonides will race for the first time since Sept. 3 when he competes in the Jan. 12 San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Park, trainer Bob Baffert said Dec. 19.
Santa Anita Park's renovation of its Cushion Track to improve drainage encountered further delays as rain threatened the Southern California area, but track president Ron Charles said Dec. 16 horses could be back training by Dec. 19.
Less than two weeks from opening day, construction crews are scrambling to get Santa Anita Park's Cushion Track back in running condition.
Perhaps no other sport is as bound to tradition as racing Thoroughbreds. From the sheer length of its history, to the grand old venues in which it takes place, to the top-hatted and red-suited bugler calling the horses to post, racing loves its time-honored habits.
- By Dan Liebman
By - Dan Liebman - In 2007, at least one Thoroughbred flat race was run at 129 different racetracks in North America (another 24 ran steeplechase races only). Of those racetracks, nine now have a synthetic track surface.
Already with a stakes win over the Hollywood Cushion Track this year, Greg's Gold will try to put a disappointing Breeders' Cup behind him when he faces five rivals in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 2, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.
Santa Anita Park, currently open for training only, will close its main track Dec. 3-10 to examine its new Cushion Track surface due to problems with drainage.
With strong out-of-state business leading the way, the Oak Tree Racing Association meet, which ended Nov. 4, posted significant gains in all sources mutuel handle over last year's figures. Out-of-state average daily handle was up 18% over last year and average daily total handle for the meet was up 9%.
Gary Broad's Buzzards Bay, unable to make the Breeders' Cup Classic due to an illness incurred during the recent Del Mar meet, demonstrated his class at Santa Anita Oct. 19 when he bested Siren Lure in Oak Tree's $54,000 allowance feature.
Safety was the watchword as Santa Anita became the third and final major Southern California racetrack to unveil its synthetic surface on the opening day of the Oak Tree Racing Association meeting.
Santa Anita Park, which has been closed for training and under major construction since July 5, will unveil its new Cushion Track surface for training on Sept. 4.
Hollywood Park, acting on test results, has ordered additional wax for the top layer of its synthetic racing surface.
After much deliberation, Santa Anita has chosen Cushion Track, the same surface as at Hollywood Park, for its synthetic track, it was announced May 23. The all-weather surface is to be installed this summer in time for the fall Oak Tree Racing Association meeting.
In an agreement with Lingfield Park Racecourse in Surrey, England, Hollywood Park will issue an invitation to the winner of the 2007 Winter Derby (Eng-III) to participate in the 68th running of the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) on June 30.
Hollywood Park, already at capacity with approximately 1,900 horses on the grounds, has set a March 9 deadline for stall applications at the 63-day spring/summer meet, which opens April 25.
Following reports that Santa Anita might request more time before installing a synthetic main-track surface, Santa Anita President Ron Charles announced Feb. 21 that Magna Entertainment Corp. is committed to installing such a surface this year.
Hollywood Park will issue a 3% retroactive purse increase for the 2006 Autumn Meet, vice president of racing Martin Panza announced Feb. 16. Checks are to be issued in the next two weeks.
Bay Meadows Race Course, long rumored to be facing demolition in favor of redevelopment plans approved by the city of San Mateo, may seek an exemption from a California Horse Racing Board mandate to replace its existing dirt track with an artificial one by the end of 2007.
The first meet at Hollywood Park with the artificial Cushion surface on the main track resulted in larger field sizes, larger purses, and increased handle, according to the track.
Foxysox, successfully making the transition from turf to Hollywood Park's new Cushion track, rallied under jockey Victor Espinoza to win Sunday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) by a neck over 35-1 shot Round Heels.
Hollywood Park planned to conduct a full card of racing on its Cushion Track Sunday, one day after jockeys complained late in the day about "waves," or clumps of synthetic material, that a track official said were caused by problems with the equipment used to maintain the new surface.
Patrick Biancone is among five Eastern trainers planning to stable at Hollywood Park for the track's autumn meet when a division of 16 horses arrived Nov. 2.
California horsemen, who have been nearly unanimous in their praise of the new Hollywood surface in recent weeks of training, continued to give Cushion Track a thumbs up after the first day of racing at the fall meeting.
Hollywood Park, which will debut its Cushion Track for racing when its fall meet begins Nov. 1, is expecting some out-of-town trainers to send horses after the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs.
After shipping into Kentucky Oct. 10, the California-based Lava Man is adjusting well to his new surroundings at Keeneland Race Course as he preps for the $5- million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. According to trainer Doug O'Neill, the 5-year-old gelding settled in without a problem and is galloping daily over Keeneland's new Polytrack synthetic surface.
Brisnet.com is now publishing individual all-weather-surface records for all horses in its past performances.
Dr. Rick Arthur, the new equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, told a meeting of state horse breeders Sept. 22 that he plans to hold veterinarians accountable when trainers they advise are found in violation of horse medication rules.
Hollywood Park expects to be the first California racetrack to run on a synthetic-racing surface. The Inglewood facility announced June 21 that it will begin work with Equestrian Surfaces of the United Kingdom to replace the existing main track at the conclusion of the spring/summer meet on July 16.
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