Hollypark Cushion Track may be fairest of them all

I’ve talked to three trainers in the past two weeks — Ron Ellis, Gary Stute and Doug O’Neill — who told me that Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track was playing more like a dirt track by the end of the 55-day meeting Sunday.

“It’s a little bit more firm and it’s not as velcro-like as Santa Anita and Del Mar can be,” said O’Neill, who returned from a 10-day Mediterranean cruise with his family Saturday night and wrapped up his fourth Hollywood Park spring-summer training title, outdistancing runner-up John Sadler 37-22 while saddling 78 more starters than his rival. Sadler saddled a meet-high seven stakes winners.

Ellis said he likes the Cushion Track better than Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride and Del Mar’s Polytrack surfaces, and O’Neill gave the Southland’s oldest synthetic track a ringing endorsement before winning Sunday’s opener with A Lil Dumaani.

“Knock on wood, we had a tremendous amount of luck training on this track,” he said. “We really didn’t have many hiccups, and that helped us start a lot of these horses two or three times throughout the meet. We were real happy with (Cushion Track), that’s for sure.

“We had a lot of starts … we were at a definite strong advantage winning a title like this because of the numbers that we run. But at the same time, hats off to the clients for investing in the horses and letting us run them as often as we do.”

Both Darrell Vienna and Jose DeLima enjoyed strong meets with small stables, winning with seven of their 25 starters — a 28 percent clip. Mike Mitchell saddled only 69 horses but finished fourth in the standings with 15 victories, a 22 percent success rate.

8 thoughts on “Hollypark Cushion Track may be fairest of them all

  1. They like it because it plays more like dirt. I have an idea why don’t we put in dirt surfaces at all the tracks? What a novel idea. It will be just as safe and cost a lot less to maintain.

    That makes too much sense though right?

  2. They dug up the tracks at Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Santa Anita and put in new bases at each, which is what they needed. If they had put in a quality dirt surface on top of the new bases, you would have had really nice tracks. But it needed to be quality dirt. Synthetic tracks have cost the California horse racing industry more than $40 million. I mean, 40 million!!!!! And for what?

  3. You’re preaching to the choir when it comes to me Art and you’re dead on with your analysis.

    That 40 million could have been used to increase purses significantly over the last 3 years and California Racing would be in much better shape today!

  4. Well, Well, Lets see–Now the chief Architect(Former CHRB head Richard Shapiro)has said that he is sorry and the tracks should go back to dirt if they want.

    Shapiro has said things have not worked out well as intended.He also has said if he had a “Do-Over” he would not do it.

    How can we get the current members of the CHRB to listen and take action to swallow their pride and lift the mandate?

    Oh Oh, maybe that is too much to ask of our leaders.

  5. Well, Well, Lets see–Now the chief Architect(Former CHRB head Richard Shapiro)has said that he is sorry and the tracks should go back to dirt if they want.

    Shapiro has said things have not worked out well as intended.He also has said if he had a “Do-Over” he would not do it.

    How can we get the current members of the CHRB to listen and take action to swallow their pride and lift the mandate?

    Oh Oh, maybe that is too much to ask of our leaders.

  6. They’ve already said they would relax the mandate … I think if Santa Anita appeared before the board tomorrow and said it wanted to put in a new, quality dirt track after the Breeders’ Cup, track officials would get their OK.

  7. ART,

    I am aware that the CHRB would consider a waiver if some track wanted dirt.

    Does that not beg the question? If they do not intend to inforce the mandate,why don`t they cancel it?

    More bureaucratic poo poo. Let them show leadership and stand up for what they mean.

  8. Rwwupl,
    When the former head of the CHRB, the man who was behind the mandate, comes out and says it was a mistake, well, kind of hard to disagree with you. My gut feeling? I think within five years you’ll see all dirt again in California, and whoever ends up with Santa Anita will install a good, quality dirt surface.

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