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Monday, January 07, 2008

Santa Anita: Los Angeles All-Weather Race Surface Prefers Nice Weather

Rainy weather has closed down lovely Santa Anita Racecourse outside Los Angeles, California since Saturday; the track will re-open today, Thursday. Santa Anita received approximately seven and a half inches of rain in 72 hours over the weekend. In spite of sealing the track before the rain and not allowing training on the main track, the new artificial racing surface is not draining properly. The surface has been plagued with drainage problems.

Jockey Mike Smith, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, said an inconsistent track can result in injuries to a horse. "A horse's hoof is sinking about one inch into the surface at one point, then suddenly the hoof is sinking in four inches," he said.

Rumors abound that the rest of the meet will be moved or that the track itself may be excavated. A major announcement is expected on Thursday.

The California tracks received a statewide mandate to switch to artificial surfaces for Thoroughbred racing. The same surface, Cushion Track, was installed at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, but the Santa Anita surface has problems with the drainage pipes beneath the surface. The entire surface was dug up over Christmas in an attempt to fix the problem. Several major stakes races are scheduled for this weekend at Santa Anita.

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