12/14/2006 12:00AM

Bay Meadows cancels after two die


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows canceled racing before the third race Thursday after fatal breakdowns in each of the day's first two races. The jockeys refused to ride before the third, citing unsafe track conditions.

Dancing Rose, a 3-year-old filly who was the 7-10 favorite, suffered a broken right front ankle at the half-mile pole of the first race. She was pulled up without falling but was euthanized.

Skum, a 2-year-old colt, suffered a similar injury in the second race. He broke his left ankle while battling on the lead at the quarter pole and fell under the rail. He, too, was euthanized. Jockey Chad Schvaneveldt avoided serious injury when he fell, suffering a mild sprain of his left thumb.

The track condition was listed as muddy after nearly 10 days of steady rain and cold weather. The Bay Meadows track crew tried to do quick repairs to the track as horses waited in the walking ring and the jockeys remained in the jockeys' room before the third race when the decision was made to cancel subsequent races.

Jockey Roberto Gonzalez, who was racing beside both horses who broke down, said jockeys voted unanimously not to ride and were not pressured to ride by Bay Meadows management.

"They agreed there was nothing they could do today," Gonzalez said.

The Bay Meadows track crew began working on the track immediately after racing was canceled.

The track's superintendent, Bob Turman, said that some of the saturated material on the top of the track would be removed and that he would probably add some sand to the surface.

Gonzalez said that the surface was too hard under the layer of mud, which was approximately three inches deep, he said. He said horses were slipping and then hitting the hard surface.

"It sounded like a two-by-fours breaking," Gonzalez said of both breakdowns.

Turman said he didn't think the track was too hard, saying hoofprints indicated the horses were not slipping.

Bay Meadows, which has sports grids in its surface, usually responds well to wet weather, but Turman said the steady rains created more problems than hard rain over a short period.

A second horse in the second race, Island Thunder, was eased.