Santa Anita Park’s all-new turf course got its first “close-up” in advance of its autumn meet opener Sept. 30 when trainer John Sadler and jockey Mike Smith teamed with Hronis Racing’s 3-year-old Curlin Rules to work four furlongs in 48 4/5 Sept. 15.
Curlin Rules entered the turf course near the finish line just before 10 a.m. and was kept well off the inside rail as he broke free from the pony heading down the turf course backstretch.
“This is just like Augusta (National Golf Club, home of the Masters),” joked Smith as he came off the course. “This colt seemed to really like it. It’s like a brand new putting green and it’s only going to get better. We’ve got two more weeks (before opening day) and that’s going to help even more.”
Comprised of a Bandera-Bermuda Turf mixture, the new course was installed this past June and will be ready for racing on opening day, day one of the 23-day stand which will be highlighted by the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 4-5.
“We’ve had optimal growing conditions over the summer and we’re anxious to demonstrate this course is ready for prime time,” said Joe Morris, vice president of West Coast Operations for The Stronach Group. “This grass is close knit and uniform and it’s designed for this climate. We’re pleased with the way both the hillside course and the oval look and with how the grass has taken root. With the Breeders’ Cup coming in November, we can’t wait to get started.”