Santa Anita’s holiday card wiped out

Santa Anita was forced to cancel its special Martin Luther King Jr. holiday racing card today when 1 1/2 inches of rain made the synthetic Pro-Ride surface unraceable. It was the first cancellation at the track since 2008 when Santa Anita had to cancel a record 11 racing days because its new Cushion Track did not drain properly.

Enter Ian Pearse from Pro-Ride, who came to the rescue and worked on the track so it would drain better. Eventually, the track became 90 percent Pro-Ride and there were no more cancellations until today. Of course, we had a very dry winter in 2009 and there was not much rain after Pearse fixed the track in ’08.

So we have an all-weather track in Arcadia that, when it rains any decent amount at all, they can’t race over it. We don’t really know how Del Mar’s Polytrack or Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track would fare in such weather. Of course, it never rains during Del Mar and it’s rained little during Hollywood Park’s autumn meet.

But don’t despair. A high-ranking Santa Anita official told me recently that Pro-Ride will almost certainly be gone by next Oak Tree meeting, replaced by a natural dirt surface. The official, who did not want me to use his name because an official decision concerning the track surface has not been reached yet, also told me that the high rollers, people who bet far more on the races than you and I, don’t like betting on synthetics. That hurts the handle, just another little fly in the ointment that is California racing these days.

13 thoughts on “Santa Anita’s holiday card wiped out

  1. Meanwhile, Golden Gate Fields installed Michael Dickinson’s Tapeta Footing two years ago and NOT LOST ONE DAY of racing as a result(despite having much more precipitation than Santa Anita).

  2. Glad to hear “Dirt” is coming back to Santa Anita. Hope the other big tracks in SoCal, Del Mar and Hollywood Park will follow after.

  3. Art, this is good news.

    Synthetic surfaces have ruined the road to the Triple Crown and the battle for HOY. Good Riddance.

    Synthetic racing is minor league racing. It’s gonna be something to see the shills on HRTV and TVG finally tell the public the truth about these fraudulent surfaces.

  4. Hollywood Park’s Cushion Ride seemed to handle rains just fine during the past meets; remember, when that track breaks down, dirt and not “Cushion Ride” is added to it. I believe Mr. Charles when he states he is thinking of returning to a dirt surface. Maybe the old days of fabulous winter racing will return to The Great Race Place should Pro Ride get the ol’ heave ho. Here’s hoping!

  5. Synthetic racing is minor league racing? How do you figure? The two tracks that feature the highest overnight and daily average purse structure are Keeneland and Woodbine – tracks with synthetic surfaces. Why do you think they also feature the highest-averaged field sizes in North America? Why do top trainers flock to those 2 tracks with their best horses year-after-year?

    How has synthetic surfaces ruined the road to the TC and battle for HOY? The 3YO crop in California has been weak for the past 3 years (look at what they’ve done in the TC races – NOTHING). As for HOY – both candidates deserve equal merit – both are amazing animals.

  6. Patrick, in Europe the horses with the least class and ability run on synthetic. Just because some eliteist brainiacs shoved it down our throats doesn’t mean its a major league surface.

    Part of the HOY vote last night was a referendum on synthetic. The vote would have been much closer had Zenyatta won on dirt in the Classic and she may have won. Most of the people who follow racing closely are against it. It was reported that 80% of Trainers at Santa Anita want it gone.

    The last suckers with deep pockets left in the world were in Dubai and not they’re in financial trouble. Synthetic surfaces are and have been the biggest fraud ever in Horse Racing.

    To quote one of the best Trainers on the planet and a credit to racing named John Shirreffs “sythetic surfaces are the one of the worst thing ever to happen to racing”. I think Art will back me up on that.

    Good Luck to all,

    Andy

  7. Andrew A said:
    Patrick, in Europe the horses with the least class and ability run on synthetic. Just because some eliteist brainiacs shoved it down our throats doesn’t mean its a major league surface.

    Part of the HOY vote last night was a referendum on synthetic. The vote would have been much closer had Zenyatta won on dirt in the Classic and she may have won. Most of the people who follow racing closely are against it. It was reported that 80% of Trainers at Santa Anita want it gone.

    The last suckers with deep pockets left in the world were in Dubai and not they’re in financial trouble. Synthetic surfaces are and have been the biggest fraud ever in Horse Racing.

    To quote one of the best Trainers on the planet and a credit to racing named John Shirreffs “sythetic surfaces are the one of the worst thing ever to happen to racing”. I think Art will back me up on that.

    Good Luck to all,

    Andy

  8. Santa Anita should also try to revamp something that they lost along time ago, thats customer service! From arrogant tellers to security guards who actually think they are real police officers this place has gone from being a first class operation to a complete joke, and the food! well lets just say that one’s better off waiting to get home to eat than rolling the dice on the over priced over/under cooked food that is served ( is say over/under because it dependends on which station you get food from) it seems to me that if you have to pay for parking,(free in vegas) pay for admission (also free in vegas) than pay for a form, program, (again free in vegas) that the customer service should be at the very least hospitable.

  9. Dave – you hit the nail squarely on the head – Santa Anita’s customer service ABSOLUTELY sucks.

    I remember a few years ago at Santa Anita, my friend asked a security guard to change a channel on one of the TV’s so he can watch a horse he owned run in a race at Bay Meadows. The security guard refused to do it (and wouldn’t let my buddy change it EVEN THOUGH no one else was around). The Security Gurard’s actual response “they’ll let you change the channel at Hollywood Park – this isn’t Hollywood Park”. Mind you – he tells this to a licensed owner that has about 30 horses competing locally.

    News to Santa Anita: customer service at Del Mar and Hollywood Park have always been priority one. Far and away better than Santa Anita.

    Also agree that the tracks need to do away with charging for parking (hello Santa Anita). That’s so archaic. Santa Anita even charges full price for parking AND admission during ITW season.

  10. Customer service should ALWAYS be No. 1, no matter if it’s a race track, a baseball stadium, a grocery store or a bicycle shop, but particularly in this economic climate when so many businesses are struggling to survive, including horse racing. If that’s true about Santa Anita, it’s disappointing news.

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