Santa Anita’s got problems

Five breakdowns during the first six days of the meet over Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface, and three of the five had to be euthanized. According to Jay Privman of the Racing Form, there have been no catastrophic breakdowns in the mornings, but one horse injured during workouts is scheduled to undergo surgery.

The track was power harrowed during a dark day on Tuesday, and tests were run on the Pro-Ride surface to try to determine the cause of the breakdowns. After last year’s fiasco when a record number of racing dates had to be canceled when the old Cushion Track would not drain, this is the last thing Santa Anita president Ron Charles needs in 2009 — an unsafe racing surface.

Hopefully, they’ll get this straightened out. But once again it points out two problems with rushing to install artificial tracks — (1) horses unfortunately are going to break down over any type of track when they land wrong, and (2) there should have been more study done on these surfaces before they were mandated by the California Horse Racing Board.

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