Santa Anita Closing Main Track to Examine Drainage Issue

Santa Anita Park, currently open for training only, will close its main track Dec. 3-10 to examine its new Cushion Track surface due to problems with drainage.

The move comes just a month before the start of the Santa Anita winter/spring meet Dec. 26. Cushion Track was first used for racing during the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita meet in September.

Santa Anita officials said the inner training track would remain open with extended hours to accommodate horsemen.

"We are just not satisfied that our racing surface is ready for the winter weather, and we want to be sure it's working properly before the start of the meet on Dec. 26," Santa Anita president Ron Charles said in a Nov.28 release.

Due to continued concerns about drainage, Santa Anita has solicited numerous track surface and soil preparation specialists who have conducted a number of maintenance programs on the main track and water tests in the seven-furlong chute. They all agree it would be advisable to conduct further tests on the Cushion Track and its drainage foundation, Santa Anita officials said.

Though the same major components--silica sand, synthetic fibers, elastic fiber, granulated rubber, and wax--are present in every Cushion Track surface, the combination of them is custom designed to meet weather conditions at each track. So too, is the size, porosity, and composition of the underlying rock layers that cover the miles of drainage pipes that have been installed.

State-of-the-art drainage systems have been said to be a hallmark of synthetic surfaces.

"We just feel we owe it to the horsemen to do everything we can to make sure the drainage system we have provides the same consistent surface we all expected and were guaranteed," Charles said. "Right now, I just don't think we're there. It's critical that we go into our winter meet knowing that when it does rain, the track drains vertically and allows us to be back racing on a safe racing surface in a very short period of time.

"Santa Anita has now invested over $11 million to provide a safe racing surface. We are looking to Cushion Track to provide the ultimate answer to this problem."

(Originally published at BloodHorse.com.)  

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