A Southland racing official who didn’t want to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak on the subject, told me today he wished Frank Stronach, chairman of Santa Anita’s parent company Magna Entertainment Corp., had stood up to Richard Shapiro and other members of the California Horse Racing Board when the ruling body mandated synthetic surfaces for all California tracks in May 2006.
“It kind of surprised me that he didn’t stand up to them,” the official said. “I mean, what were they going to do — close down Santa Anita? Tracks like Del Mar, they needed to do something, and Hollywood Park just made the politically correct move. But I really wish Stronach had said no to them.”
Artificial surfaces are in the news again this week after Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner, Jess Jackson, told racing writers during a national teleconference this week that he will not send the talented 3-year-old filly to the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Santa Anita because he disdains what he calls “plastic” tracks.
“I have a very strong dislike for plastic surfaces and I don’t think she should be exposed to that,” Jackson said.
Jackson, who also campaigned two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, still rues his decision to run the colt in last year’s Breeders’ Cup. The son of Smart Strike made a bold move turning for home while extremely wide, took the leald and then flattened out through the stretch and finished fourth.