Santa Anita Park's Cushion Track is set to re-open for training on Dec. 22.

Santa Anita Park's Cushion Track is set to re-open for training on Dec. 22.

Horses Set to Work at Santa Anita

Horses are set to train on Santa Anita's reworked Cushion Track.

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.

Rain had delayed the start of the Arcadia, Calif., track’s project, which began Dec. 5 and took longer than initially anticipated. Another bout of rain set maintenance crews further back Dec. 19, and though it rained again Dec. 20, that didn’t appear to cause any more delays.

“They spread most of the additional materials into the track (Dec. 20),” George Haines, Santa Anita’s vice president and general manager, said Dec. 21. “They are now working the surface, and it should be done so that horses can go back on it (Saturday).”

As trainers looked on the morning of Dec. 21, the outer half of the track was undergoing harrowing while a truck spread more rubber onto the inner half of the surface.

Santa Anita is slated to open its 2007-08 winter meet Dec. 26. During the renovation period, horses used the training track or were shipped across town to Hollywood Park for workouts.

The Cushion Track synthetic surface, installed in time for the fall Oak Tree Racing Association meet, did not drain properly because fine sand and wax were clogging the asphalt base. The renovation project involved removing the material down to the base, cleaning the asphalt, and then mixing in coarser sand and more synthetic materials.

Santa Anita president Ron Charles said the new mixture was decided upon after Santa Anita conducted numerous tests. He and Haines reiterated several times over the course of the renovation that the track would not open until it was safe for horses.

No more rain is forecast for the Southern California area through Santa Anita’s opening day. Entries for opening day will be drawn Dec. 23.