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Santa Anita loses seventh racing day to rain

Times Staff Writer

On a day when even an indoor Lakers game was delayed by rain, Santa Anita’s number of racing days lost to inclement weather this month rose to an unprecedented seven.

There was no live racing at the Arcadia racetrack Sunday, nor will there be racing there today.

“There was just too much water on the track,” Santa Anita President Ron Charles said.

Rainouts in horse racing are rare, but the combination of a drainage problem with Santa Anita’s new synthetic track and an abnormally wet winter have caused the spate of cancellations.

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The sun shone long enough for Santa Anita to run its portion of the marquee eight-race Sunshine Millions event on Saturday, and a good crowd of 28,414 came out to enjoy big-time racing on a picture-perfect day.

Charles praised track superintendent Richard Tedesco and his crew for getting the track in shape.

“Tedesco and his crew did a great job,” Charles said. “They initially worked around the clock to have the main track in race shape. They began at 6 o’clock Friday evening and worked until seven o’clock Saturday morning.”

But the bright picture that the sunshine brought for the Sunshine Millions darkened late Saturday, as the heavy rains that were predicted hit not long after the racing concluded. And then there was more rain Sunday afternoon.

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The additional rain meant a renovation project to remedy the drainage problem with Santa Anita’s new synthetic track had to be put off for a week.

Charles said the plan is for racing to resume Thursday and continue through the weekend. Then the process of applying a polymer binder and fibers will begin Feb. 5 and take four or five days.

Racing would then resume Feb. 8 or 9, meaning at least two or three more racing days will be lost.

Asked why the applications of the binders and fiber would take so long, Charles said, “It’s a very slow process. We’re talking about adding something like 20,000 gallons of material.

“We can’t take a chance of putting it down and the track not being consistent,” Charles said, meaning it might be softer in some spots than others.

“It is such an important process. Everyone who has seen it -- the trainers, the jockeys -- are so optimistic that this will absolutely not only fix our drainage problem, but give us a safer race track without the hardness we had before.

“It’s worth waiting one more week.”

However, the rain and the track closures have created havoc for training.

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“Most days lately, we’ve only had the option of training on the training track,” said trainer Ted H. West, referring to the traditional dirt track located inside the turf course. “We try to pick a day when the training track is good and maybe sneak in a work.

“Right now, nobody knows when we’re going to be able to train again on the main track. It’s touch and go all the way. We just have to make do with what we have. That’s our only option. It’s either that or keep them in the stall.”

The track remains open for simulcast wagering. General admission and parking are free.

Racing secretary Rick Hammerle said the Grade I Santa Monica Handicap, which had been scheduled to be run Sunday, will be rescheduled for Saturday and entries will be redrawn.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com


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