Charles latest to sound off against synthetics

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.

12 thoughts on “Charles latest to sound off against synthetics

  1. Anyone that follows racing on a daily basis and couldn’t figure this out a year ago really needs to ………………………… (you fill in the blank).

    The “powers that be” are coming out now and they are going to tell you that you’ve been “punked”.

    Although they had good intentions in the beginning they perpetuated a lie for 3 years when this was evident after a year.

    The only problem is that these guys along with the CHRB, HRTV and TVG and Keenland (Polytrack Mothership) have been lying to the public for a couple of years now and “slowly but surely the truth is coming out”!

    Misleading the public is never OK and all these people and organizations need to be held accountable!

  2. I hope Andrew A is right. I would like to have my game in California back. Back to dirt would be a major step, and while they are “Fixing” things how about lowering the take too!

    Happy New Year… Maybe?

  3. Art,

    I hope everyone who reads this understands how important Art is to all of us. Without him, no one speaks truth to the sport we all love.

    Not unlike most of us, Art wants his Santa Anita (dirt) back, too.

    And Del Mar (incompetents and liars).

    And Hollywood.

    And Keeneland.

    And Woodbine.

    And Turfway.

    In these bad economic times, with no real racing media remaining (DRF is in bed with the tracks), Art plays a vital role. No one holds the Santa Anita, Hollywood and Del Mar hierarchy more accountable.

    Thank you, Art, for your courage, honesty and empathy.

    They should all be like you.

    Sincerely,

    Red

  4. Thank you Art; add Rene and Michael to the list of AW non-supporters. A rider said the stuff comes up to meet you like a cement mixer. The amount of navicular disease and muscle atrophy evident in the AW post parades is unbelieveable. Also great comments about the media guys; lying sycophants who would write anything for a free spread, led by DRF. Throw them into the same garbage as you through global warming and anyone who thinks Rachel would get within 3 lengths of Zenyatta.

  5. Does anyone know the story of how this all became?

    The last year Turfway had a dirt surface the weather that winter was horrendous. Freezing temps (not 32 – more like -32!), frozen tracks, breakdowns, cancellations.

    The following winter they had polycrap which resulted in less breakdowns, blah, blah, blah. Let’s forget about the fact that this winter was much milder than the previous. The only reason things improved was because of the polycrap.

    That one season was how polycrap was annointed “the answer.” Now here we are.

    Let’s be honest, CA definitely needed to make a change. Unfortunately they chose polycrap instead of investing that same money on removing the current dirt tracks and replacing them with brand new dirt tracks.

    What a shame.

  6. Does anyone know the story of how this all became?

    The last year Turfway had a dirt surface the weather that winter was horrendous. Freezing temps (not 32 – more like -32!), frozen tracks, breakdowns, cancellations.

    The following winter they had polycrap which resulted in less breakdowns, blah, blah, blah. Let’s forget about the fact that this winter was much milder than the previous. The only reason things improved was because of the polycrap.

    That one season was how polycrap was annointed “the answer.” Now here we are.

    Let’s be honest, CA definitely needed to make a change. Unfortunately they chose polycrap instead of investing that same money on removing the current dirt tracks and replacing them with brand new dirt tracks.

    What a shame.

  7. John — it’s my opinion that dirt “went bad” after the disastrous 2006 Del Mar meet and the Barbaro breakdown. Instead of digging up Del Mar and installing a new base, which it badly needed, they put in Polytrack. And, of course, we all know the rest of the story.

  8. Agree with your guess on what triggered the movement in CA. to synthetics. That was a bad 1-2 punch that forced perhaps a hasty change. Maybe on hindsight one track should have gone synthetic and that one should have been Del Mar. But I question that CA is moving back to dirt. Hollywood is practically dirt as it is, and will not be around much longer, sure dont see that surface changing. Dont see Golden Gate changing as there has been very little complaining up there. I see SA going back to dirt, absolutely NO CHANCE Del Mar is going back to dirt in the foreseeable future. So one track, thats it.

  9. Whoa! What’s up with the DRF hating here?

    No doubt, it’s a trade publication. And no doubt, the editorial tone won’t be angry and vindictive toward the racetracks, which are (kind of, at this late date) part of the supply chain. But from what I’ve seen, writers at newspapers just like this one rely heavily on stories initially disseminated by DRF to gain basic knowledge of and formulate positions on racing issues.

    If you think DRF has done less than it might to cover synthetic-track issues, you just haven’t been reading the publication regularly. The SoCal writers have kept on top of every twist and turn in the synthetic story, providing valuable info all along. The paper’s industry editor has written many stories about synthetics at large, and if you hadn’t noticed, umm, some major East Coast bylines in DRF consistently support DIRT racing.

    Can understand California racing anger – but it seems misplaced here.

    Marcus Hersh
    Daily Racing Form
    Chicago/New Orleans etc

  10. Oh boy, put dirt back at Santa Anita. I can’t wait for one of those January afternoons when it has rained for three days straight and the track is either sealed so tight that it’s like running on concrete or is fetlock deep in mud and scratches have turned the card into virtual match races.
    Yes, the main track was closed for training one morning a couple of weeks ago. For any non-amnesia sufferers out there, do you remember how often it was closed to training during the winter meeting when the surface was dirt? A lot.

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