Well, perhaps it’s fitting that this is the weekend Santa Anita owner Frank Stronach picked to visit the Southland. He gets to witness first-hand the track’s fifth cancellation of the year and 16th dating back to 2008.
This time it’s the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, one of the important races of the meet for 3-year-olds with Kentucky Derby aspirations, that takes the hit. Although there is no official word yet from track officials, they’ll probably re-card it next weekend, putting these horses a week behind in preparing for the Triple Crown series.
Santa Anita needs to do the right thing, which is install a new dirt surface when the Pro-Ride is torn out at the end of the meet. They need something that is tried and tested and is 120 percent certain to work. If management is CERTAIN this new sandy, dirt track that Stronach advocates will work, fine, but how can they know when it’s been used only for show jumping, one training track in Spain and Stronach’s track in Austria that races less than two weeks a year?
There’s a very good chance we’re going to lose Lookin At Lucky to Oaklawn Park. It appears trainer Bob Baffert is close to taking the Derby favorite to the Rebel Stakes and then leave him there for the Arkansas Derby on April 10. It’s a sad commentary that trainers now take their top 3-year-olds to other venues to prepare for this country’s most popular horse race.
It’s time Santa Anita stopped all the games and the pro-synthetic folks ceased with all their numbers and statistics that are colored to fit their arguments. Ladies and gentlemen, California horse racing used to be the model for the sport. It’s getting to the point where it’s now the laughing stock of the rest of the industry.
These are sad, sad times for anyone who truly loves this game.