Test Calls for Flooding of SA Surface

Santa Anita's synthetic surface will be flooded in yet another test.

A two-day flooding of Santa Anita Park’s synthetic surface is one of the final tests management plans before making a decision on the future of the main-track surface. Track president Ron Charles said the surface will be flooded following training hours May 28.

“We will put about four inches of water on the track in a fairly short period of time,” Charles said. “The track will be closed for training on Thursday (May 29), and we expect to have training resume on Friday (May 30).”

Santa Anita lost several days of racing early this year when its Cushion Track surface didn’t drain properly. The track maintenance crew and Ian Pearse of Pro-Ride Racing Australia added Pro-Ride material that allowed for completion of the 2007-08 winter meet without further cancellations. The reviews were generally favorable.

Following the close of racing April 20, Santa Anita management began conducting a series of tests to determine whether to improve or replace the synthetic surface. Santa Anita will be the site of the 2008 and 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which would be the first run on a synthetic surface.

“We’ve conducted several tests already, including environmental tests,” Charles said.

Industrial hygienist Colin Young has been working with Santa Anita on the environmental tests, which have examined such aspects as kickback and air quality. Some people have expressed concern that the synthetic materials used could be detrimental to human and equine health.

The track received an unexpected water test May 22-23 when the Los Angeles area was pelted by unusually strong thunderstorms. A tornado about 50 miles east in Riverside County flipped railway cars and overturned a tractor-trailer. The track received approximately two inches of rain, but remained open for training and even a few workouts the morning of May 23.

“In the old days (with a dirt surface), the track would have been closed,” Charles said.

Pearse will be on hand from Australia for the upcoming water tests.

“We know we can improve the surface, which is already performing well,” Charles said.

Should Santa Anita elect to remain with the current synthetic surface, those improvements would probably occur during the Del Mar summer meet.