10/11/2002 12:00AM

Bulked up Northlands program


EDMONTON, Alberta - Northlands Park will schedule extra races over the holiday weekend to make up for the loss of Wednesday's card, which was canceled because of unusual track conditions.

Sunday's program will have 11 races instead of the typical eight.

Racing secretary Fred Hilts said he will offer six extra races Monday, headed by the sixth running of the $75,000 Canadian Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles.

Wednesday's cancelation was announced within an hour of the scheduled first post time. It wasn't a case of the jockeys refusing to ride, but rather the result of mutual agreement among all parties.

Only three works were recorded over a sloppy track on Wednesday.

"Because of the positioning of the starting gate" - about five horse-paths wide from the rail - "that would have been necessary, it would have [been] more of a case of being unfair to the outside horses rather than the track being unsafe," Northlands racing manager Les Butler said.

"It is ironic that what makes our track so great for harness racing resulted in these problems for the Thoroughbreds. The clay worked its way up into the cushion and made it slippery.

"We did replace half the track this year, but before we race in 2003 we will change the entire surface. We would place a hard base of sand over the clay to prevent the clay from infiltrating the cushion.

"Unfortunately it is not an exact science where you can open a book and find the solution," Butler said. "It is a living entity, and we will consult such tracks as Vancouver, Woodbine, and Meadowlands before we arrive at the best formula."

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