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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bring on the Bulldozers: Santa Anita Will Install Brand New Artificial Surface for Breeders Cup in October

The continuing education of racetrack management continues this summer, as a full card of bulldozers will break through the gate of lovely Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California. The learn-as-you-go plan is to completely replace the year-old Cushion Track artificial surface with a brand new Pro-Ride surface from Australia.

The Cushion Track surface was installed over questionable drainage systems and malfunctioned this winter, cancelling racing on several days when the winter rains hit the track east of Los Angeles.

Santa Anita Park announced today that its main track will undergo a complete overhaul beginning July 14, and will be reconstituted with a mixture of Pro-Ride synthetic. The project will include completely removing the existing asphalt base, adding a new grid base material, and treating the entire track with binder and fiber. It is anticipated the complete project will take six weeks to complete. During this period of construction, there will be no training at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita’s new Pro-Ride synthetic surface will debut with the beginning of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Sept. 24. The 25th Breeders Cup will be run at Santa Anita October 24-25; it will be the first time that the Breeders Cup has been run on an artificial surface.

Racing officials and hierarchy are putting lots of faith eggs in the artificial surface basket, with permanent installations completed this year at all major California tracks, joining Keeneland and Turf Paradise in Kentucky and other tracks around the country in the experimental switch from dirt to fiber. The hope is that the surface will be safer for horses and more consistent.

Several Breeders Cup races are run on the turf and will not be affected by the surface switch.

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