Santa Anita, which already has had more than its share of trouble because of rain, was dealt another blow by Mother Nature early Thursday.
A rare and severe hailstorm that hit parts of Arcadia around 5 a.m. caused Santa Anita President Ron Charles, after consulting with other track personnel, to cancel Thursday’s eight-race card.
Now, with more rain expected, racing today and over the weekend is in doubt.
“We had an inch-and-a-half of rain overnight and got hit with two inches of hail,” Charles said. “Oddly enough, the hail hit only three-fourths of the track.
“Without the hail, we would have raced today, and possibly tomorrow and Saturday as well. We had a good seal on the track and were actually in pretty good shape until the hail hit. The hail melted and sunk into the track that, as everyone already knows, has a severe drainage problem.”
The track Charles was referring to is the synthetic Cushion Track installed last summer.
As for racing today and, more important, Saturday, those decisions will be made on a day-to-day basis, Charles said.
Although more rain was forecast for Thursday night and today, Charles was holding out hope for a possible window of clear weather that would allow Santa Anita to race Saturday, when four of the eight Sunshine Millions races are scheduled to be run at the Arcadia facility.
The other four are scheduled for Florida’s Gulfstream Park, with the eight races offering a total of $3.6 million in purses.
“If we aren’t able to run, we’ll reschedule the Sunshine Millions,” Charles said.
He said the new date would have to be one agreeable to owners and trainers, but he hoped it could be within the next two weeks.
Charles said the plan was to fix the drainage problem next week, weather permitting. The polymer binder and fiber needed to remedy the problem will be arriving this weekend. If possible, it will be applied Monday through Thursday of next week, under the supervision of Ian Pearse, founder of the Australia-based company Pro-Ride.
If the application goes as scheduled, racing will be canceled Monday and Thursday.
“Again, we are at the mercy of the weather,” Charles said.
Thursday’s cancellation was the fourth racing day Santa Anita has lost to rain this month. The other three were Jan. 5, 6 and 7, marking the first time three consecutive days of racing were lost since the track opened in 1934.
There had been speculation that Saturday’s card featuring the Sunshine Millions races might be moved to Hollywood Park or Golden Gate Fields.
Charles said Hollywood Park was not a viable plan for a number of reasons. One is the turf course there is being worked on and is unusable. Another is the logistics, which would include moving Santa Anita’s tote board to the Inglewood track.