11/09/2010 2:28PM

California board formally approves new Santa Anita surface

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The California Horse Racing Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a waiver that will allow Santa Anita Park to complete the installation of a dirt surface as its main track.

The waiver was required to allow Santa Anita to proceed with a project that is already under way to replace the track's artificial surface, because California's racing rules require artificial racing surfaces at all of the state's major tracks. Santa Anita decided earlier this year to replace the surface because of its persistent drainage problems and widespread dissatisfaction among the state's horsemen about horses' performances over the surface.

Racing board officials have been monitoring the project since Santa Anita announced its intentions in August, and the waiver was considered a foregone conclusion going into the meeting. The track began removing the artificial surface in October, in the hopes of completing the project by early December.

Commissioners approved the waiver after receiving updates on the project from Scott Daruty, the chief operating officer of MI Developments, the owner of Santa Anita.

John Sadler, the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said at the meeting that his organization endorsed the project.