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.