02/05/2011 2:56PM

Tinkering with dirt

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Horsemen this winter have been unusually tight-lipped regarding the new main track at Santa Anita.

No one wants to knock the surface. Not publicly, at least.

But behind the scenes, many are frustrated. Some trainers said they were led to believe the new dirt surface would be 90 percent sand and 10 percent silt and clay.

Prior to the meet, track officials told Daily Racing Form the content would be 86 percent sand, 8 percent clay, and 6 percent silt.

Something went awry, somewhere along the way. Blame the wet weather early in the season, or a mixture miscalculation. Maybe the sand was no good to begin with.

Whatever the reason, laboratory analysis of the main track recently showed the track was more than 76 percent sand and 24 percent silt and clay.

Trainers said the percentages make a huge difference. They want it closer to the originally advertised premise – somewhere between 86 and 90 percent sand.

Some jockeys recently have worn plastic face shields during races to protect themselves from clods.

Everyone wants the new track at Santa Anita to work – horsemen, jockeys and handicappers.

Santa Anita officials have considered adding sand to the racetrack in an effort to bring the surface back to “normal.”

There was talk this week that natural sand from nearby San Clemente will be shipped up and added to the surface.

Meanwhile, the show continues – on the racetrack and behind the scenes.

The story is far from finished. Stay tuned.