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Santa Anita cancels Thursday racing in anticipation of rain

Riders take to the track at Santa Anita Park.
Riders take to the track on opening day of a new meet at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 1.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Anita canceled horse racing for Thursday in anticipation of heavy rain Wednesday that is likely to continue into the next day. It was also cause for some shifts in the stakes schedule over the remainder of the weekend.

The track started its signature season Sunday by moving six of its 11 races off the turf because of rain the previous week. Limited turf racing resumed on a special Monday card.

Santa Anita has been trying to build a strong turf schedule the last two years, sometimes making half the races on the grass. However, turf doesn’t have the flexibility that the dirt track has when it comes to handling excess water. A dirt surface can be sealed, or compressed, allowing water not to seep into the ground but instead run off the top. Track maintenance will then harrow the track to release the compactness and return it to its regular consistency for racing.

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Some of the races scheduled for Thursday will be melded into Friday’s card. It’s unclear if Friday will be completely dirt racing or if a few races will be run on grass. The Eddie Logan Stakes and Blue Norther Stakes scheduled for Friday have been moved to Sunday. Both are one-mile turf races for 2-year-olds. The Robert Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on turf has been moved to Saturday.

The addition of the Frankel race means Saturday will have four graded stakes. The most interesting is the Grade 3 $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds going a mile on dirt. It’s a Kentucky Derby prep race offering 10 points to the winner, not enough to get a horse a spot in the Churchill Downs race.

Hot Rod Charlie was horse racing’s feel-good story of 2021. His owners and trainer hope for one more year of racing, starting Sunday at Santa Anita.

What makes it interesting is that trainer Bob Baffert could enter at least four horses in the race but Churchill Downs has made him ineligible to win Derby qualifying points. Baffert has not been charged with anything, but the track made the move after Medina Spirit, this year’s Derby winner, tested positive for a legal medication that is banned on race day. Baffert received a two-year ban from Churchill Downs properties, pending litigation. The points any of his horses would normally be awarded are vacated.

Post time Friday and Sunday is 12:30 p.m., with a noon post on Saturday.


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