Rain Shuts Down Santa Anita Racing

Santa Anita officials canceled racing for Jan. 5 after Southern California was hit with the first of a series of rainstorms the previous evening. The Cushion Track synthetic surface, installed at Santa Anita this past summer to replace its main dirt track, has not drained properly despite an extensive renovation project in December, prompting the cancellation.

The track made the decision in the interest of safety after consulting with maintenance personnel, jockeys and horsemen early in the morning, according George Haines, Santa Anita’s general manager. No decision has been made on live racing for the remainder of the weekend.

"We received more than five inches of rain last night," Haines said. "This morning with (track superintendent) Richard Tedesco, Aaron Gryder, and some of the horsemen, we decided that the best course of action was to cancel live racing today."

The Los Angeles area is expected to receive more rain over the weekend. Haines said that they will reevaluate the situation the morning of Jan. 6 and make a decision then on whether to cancel that program as well.

"By closing today, that gives us the chance to save the racetrack for later," said Haines. "We're trying to get the moisture out of it, then reseal it. It’s all about safety for the horses and the riders. This is a new surface, and we want to be cautious."

Ron Charles, president of Santa Anita, was at Gulfstream Park for meetings Jan. 5. Reached by phone, he echoed Haines' remarks.

"We want to err on the side of caution," Charles said. "We just don't want to take a chance."

Charles said that the worst part of the track appears to be the area around the three-quarter pole.

Santa Anita’s sand-based training track will remain open for workouts. Santa Anita will also be open to the public for simulcast wagering. There is free general admission.

The drainage issue could jeopardize Santa Anita’s 85-day meet, which runs through April 20.

Charles said that Santa Anita officials plan to meet next week to evaluate the track and to decide about approaching the California Horse Racing Board regarding the lost overnight races.

(Originally published at BloodHorse.com.)

About the Author

Tracy Gantz

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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