Heavy rain forced cancellation of racing at Santa Anita following the first race Sunday.

Heavy rain forced cancellation of racing at Santa Anita following the first race Sunday.


Heavy Rain Forces Santa Anita to Cancel

Unrelenting rain forced Santa Anita Park to abandon racing Sunday after the first race, the first such cancellation at the Southern California track in 10 years.

As the rain intensified, jockeys huddled with track administration after the first race, in which 4-year-old gelding Unusual Sunrise broke down and fell. They announced the joint decision to cancel prior to saddling for the second race.

"The riders brought it to our attention that the track was pretty slick and that the horses were not getting the necessary foothold," said Santa Anita general manager George Haines. "Management then decided they didn't want to expose the horses and jockeys to any unnecessary risks."

The last time Santa Anita called off live racing was Jan. 8, 1995, which also came after the first race was run. Full cards were canceled Jan. 11 and 12 that year.

There was no immediate word on the rescheduling of two stakes races that were on Sunday's card, the $100,000 San Miguel for 3-year-olds at six furlongs and the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Sweet Catomine was scheduled to make her 2005 debut in the Santa Ysabel.

Fans on-track were issued rain checks good for admission and an official program that can be used any day throughout the meet.

"It looks like we may finally get a break in the weather," Haines said. "The plan is to race on Wednesday."

Jockey Mike Smith, who went down during the spill in Sunday's first race which caused fatal injuries to the gelding, said the track surface wasn't the cause.

"He didn't step in any hole or anything like that," Smith said of Unusual Sunrise, who suffered broken sesamoid bones. "That track was good, he just slipped.

"Both riders and management all felt the same," he added. "It was the right thing to do. There's always tomorrow."

"We had three inches since last night," said track superintendent Steve Wood early Sunday morning.

Wood said that nearly 16 inches of rain has inundated Santa Anita during the 11 days of racing since the meet began on Dec. 26.

"Average for the entire year is 14 inches," Wood said.