Hollywood Park Shuffles Turf Races Again

Sunny Hollywood Park won't be using its turf course for the remainder of the meet after jockeys Sunday said it was unsafe for the second straight day.

In spite of warm and dry weather all week, three races were shuffled from the grass to dirt Sunday – the second, fourth and seventh.

Track president Rick Baedeker said three races set for the turf on the autumn meet's closing day card Monday have also been switched to the dirt, including the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares.

Following the second race Saturday, jockeys told track management that the course was uneven following recent heavy rains and officials reacted immediately.

Baedeker said a maintenance crew aerated parts of the course that were causing concerns for the riders.

"There were a couple of soft spots that we thought would dry out particularly with the warm weather we've been having," he said. But after inspecting the course Sunday morning with a few of the jockeys, there were still concerns expressed.

"I'd say it's a split opinion in there (the jockeys' room) but when you've got jocks who will look you in the eye and tell you they are concerned for the horses' safety, and their safety that's really the end of the discussion," Baedeker said. "We're not going to take that chance. We're not going to run that risk."

There have been complaints about the course following heavy rains earlier this month. Turf racing was also scotched Dec. 11 although the course was used without incident earlier this week.