02/18/2008 12:00AM

California holding synthetic-surface conference


The California Horse Racing Board is holding a one-day conference on synthetic surfaces Wednesday at Santa Anita, bringing together nine panels of experts to discuss a variety of issues regarding the surfaces, which have been installed at four major racetracks in the state.

The racing board has invited jockeys, synthetic track manufacturers and experts, trainers, track maintenance experts, veterinarians, racing secretaries, horse owners, handicappers, and front-office executives to speak at the conference, which will begin at 10 a.m. in the Baldwin Terrace room.

The racing board mandated that all major California tracks install synthetic surfaces for their 2007 meetings. A variety of problems have surfaced on synthetic tracks at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita since Hollywood Park installed the first such surface in the fall of 2006.

By far, the biggest problems have been at the current Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which lost 11 days of racing in January and early February because the surface failed to drain.

"The meeting is to review where we are, identify concerns, discuss solutions, get the facts to date, improve communications and create collaborative efforts," the racing board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, said in a statement.