Santa Anita Dirt Track

Santa Anita Dirt Track

Benoit Photo

Santa Anita Plans to Adjust Track Composition

Concerns over the effects of recent rainfall prompt decision to add sand to mix.

Santa Anita’s track maintenance team plans to adjust the composition of the main track Jan. 18 to bring it back to the mix of sand, clay, and silt that it was before Southern California received several rainstorms in late December. Officials will be meeting with horsemen regarding the addition of sand to the surface.

“The racetrack may have changed during periods of heavy rain, and we want to get it right back to where we started,” said George Haines, president of Santa Anita.

Michael DePew, a soil scientist who regularly works with Santa Anita, is analyzing track samples, Haines said, in order to advise track superintendent Richard Tedesco on the types of material and how much should be added.

Santa Anita replaced its synthetic track last fall with a dirt surface. While initial reviews of the new track have generally been positive, it has played extremely fast and three track records have been broken since the meet began Dec. 26.

“We recognize that the fast times are something we’d like to address,” said Haines, “but safety comes first. We want to make sure that the track is put back in an order that it was designed to be. We are working closely with the horsemen on this.”

Haines will meet with the California Thoroughbred Trainers Jan. 17 regarding the maintenance schedule. The track will conduct racing that day because of the Martin Luther King holiday. Jan. 18 is a regular dark day, at which time the maintenance can be performed. Racing is scheduled to resume Jan. 20.

“On Tuesday after training, we’re planning to add sand to the racetrack after discussion with the horsemen,” said Haines. “We’re still analyzing how much we will have to add. We’re going to blend that sand into the racing surface.”

The sand will be blended into the top six inches of the surface, Haines said. It will then be leveled out and prepared again for racing and training.