Add Santa Anita president Ron Charles to the growing list of horsemen who are not quite as high on synthetic race tracks as when they were first installed.
Two years ago, when Santa Anita ran its first winter-spring meet on Cushion Track, management was forced to cancel a record 11 racing cards when the track did not drain. ly. Just two weeks ago, track officials had to close their Pro-Ride synthetic track for workouts one morning when the surface did not drain properly following about three inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
“I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that they rushed a little bit to change to synthetics,” Charles said on the eve of Santa Anita’s opening day of racing today. “Hindsight being 20-20, they haven’t proved to be what they were advertised to be.
“The biggest problem with the synthetics, certainly here in California and what I’m hearing elsewhere, is the manufacturers really didn’t understand the amount of traffic that would be on the race track. We’re talking 1,500, 1,800 horses hitting it every day, and that’s just something that hadn’t been done before. It’s created a maintenance problem which has created a problem for keeping those tracks consistent.”
For all you synthetic haters out there, keep the faith. I keep hearing from very good sources that traditional dirt surfaces will be back in California sooner rather than later.
When these tracks first went in, it seemed as though 80 percent of the horsemen were in favor of them. Now, it’s almost turned 180 degrees where nearly 80 percent are anti-synthetics.