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Santa Anita postpones fall season opening because of Bobcat fire

Jockeys ease off their horses after crossing the finish line during a race at Santa Anita Park in 2013.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Anita has postponed this weekend’s opening of its autumn meeting for one week, until Sept. 25, because of the nearby Bobcat fire affecting the San Gabriel Valley.

The combination of poor air quality and the track being used as an evacuation center precipitated the decision.

“Our local community has been deeply impacted by the Bobcat fire burning for more than a week in the mountains behind us,” said Aidan Butler, acting executive director of California operations for the Stronach Group. “The current weather pattern has kept the smoke in the valley, and the air quality is quite poor now.”

Santa Anita was supposed to open Saturday for two days of racing before going to a Friday through Sunday schedule for the remainder of the five-week season.

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Bob E. McGee, a 2-year-old gelding, was euthanized after sustaining an injury in a 350-yard race at Los Alamitos Race Course on Sunday night.

The stakes races that were scheduled for this weekend will be added to the following weekend, which includes the biggest day of the meeting on Sept. 26. On that Saturday, there will be three Grade 1 races plus other graded stakes.

“The smoke has impacted some training schedules, so postponing until next weekend will allow everyone a chance to be ready to go,” said Steve Lym, vice president of racing at the track. “We are planning on filling extra races throughout the meet to give our horsemen the opportunity to run their horses.”

This is similar to what Del Mar did during its summer meeting when it reduced racing to three days a week.

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When the track opens, it will not be open to fans because of the coronavirus.

An estimate for containment of California’s Bobcat fire, which ignited Sept. 6 and has burned over 36,000 acres, has been pushed back to Oct. 30.


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