Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
In conjunction with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), Santa Anita Park has announced its main track will be closed for training beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday and all day Tuesday in order to fully evaluate sub-surface conditions such as moisture content and soil consistency. If the results of these efforts indicate the track is in prime condition, regularly scheduled training will resume Wednesday morning and live racing will proceed on Thursday.
In order to accommodate horsemen tomorrow, the main track will open for training beginning at 5 a.m., with two regular renovations scheduled at 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. Santa Anita’s training track will be open each morning as planned, at 4:45 a.m. and will stay open until 10:30 a.m.
Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco, in addition to performing all regularly scheduled maintenance on the dirt oval, will examine the entire track surface and if any issues are found, he will address those areas.
Although Santa Anita has experienced 11 ½ inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures this month, dry weather and more moderate temperatures are forecast for the next several days, which will enable LaRocco’s crew to “peel back” the track’s cushion to a depth of approximately five inches, where a thorough examination of the base can be undertaken.
Mick Peterson, PhD, who serves as Director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs, and who evaluates soil samples from Santa Anita on a monthly basis, will be on-site in the coming days to review Santa Anita’s sub-surface and surface data. Peterson will also be working with a newly formed committee consisting of Hall of Fame retired jockey Alex Solis, who is now a CHRB commissioner, one well-established Southern California trainer, one active jockey and one member of Santa Anita’s management team to fully evaluate all data and monitor feedback from horsemen, including trainers, jockeys and exercise riders.
Santa Anita’s main track surface, which is tested and evaluated on a daily basis by both Santa Anita and the CHRB, is one mile in circumference, with quarter mile and seven furlong chutes located to the southwest and northeast of the “course proper.”
Live racing will resume as planned, this coming Thursday, Feb. 28, with first post time at 1 p.m.
The plans to evaluate the Santa Anita surface come after an increase of fatalities during both racing and training hours since the start of the meet on Dec. 26. For the first nine weeks of the Santa Anita meet (Dec. 26-Feb. 23), the CHRB reported 13 fatalities on dirt (six during racing, seven during training hours) and five on turf (during racing). For comparable periods in previous years there were seven fatalities on dirt (three racing, four training) and three on turf (during racing) in 2017-’18; six on dirt (four racing, two training) and two on turf (during racing) in 2016-’17; and 12 on dirt four racing, eight training) and two on turf (during racing) in 2015-’16.
On Sunday afternoon, the CHRB issued the following statement:
“California Horse Racing Board representatives held a productive discussion with senior management of Santa Anita Park today concerning the number of equine fatalities at the current meet.
“CHRB Chairman Chuck Winner, Vice Chair Madeline Auerbach, Commissioner Alex Solis, and Executive Director Rick Baedeker participated in the conference call with Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer for The Stronach Group (TSG), and P.J. Campo, executive vice president of racing for TSG. Both of the racetrack executives expressed commitment to dealing with the current situation. All agreed that inclement weather creates additional challenges for track maintenance.
“Santa Anita is expected to issue a response statement later today detailing the steps they will be taking to address the situation.
“CHRB will continue to monitor all aspects of Santa Anita’s racing program, as we do at all tracks, and work with Santa Anta management and horseman to promote safer racing.”
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