01/12/2007 12:00AM

Del Mar to go synthetic by April


ARCADIA, Calif. - Del Mar has begun the installation of a synthetic surface for its 2007 meeting, a construction project that is expected to be completed by April.

According to director of racing Tom Robbins, the Polytrack synthetic material is being mixed on the backstretch and will be installed in early March. Until then, construction workers are removing rails and chain-link fences surrounding the existing track. In February, the existing main track will be removed and a drainage system and base for the synthetic surface will be installed.

After the Polytrack material is installed in March, new rails and fencing will be put up toward the end of the month or in early April.

Robbins said that horses will exercise on the new surface in April or early May to see how it performs.

"We've got a small window there to get some horses on it and get comments," Robbins said.

Del Mar's 2007 meeting will run from July 18 to Sept. 5. After horses are tried on the surface in the spring, Robbins said the course will be "buttoned up" so that it does not endure damage during the San Diego County Fair from late June to early July.

The Del Mar grounds are used for the county fair. After the fair, the course will be renovated in advance of the arrival of horses for the meet.

Del Mar is the second track in California to install a synthetic track, following Hollywood Park, which installed a Cushion Track surface last August and September. The Cushion Track surface was used for the first time at the track's fall meeting, and has been warmly received by horsemen who say that the course is kinder on horses for racing and training.

California's five major Thoroughbred tracks must install synthetic surfaces by the end of the year, following a 2006 mandate by the California Horse Racing Board. Santa Anita is scheduled to install a synthetic track during August, in time for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting that begins in late September.

Quick Little Miss tops Santa Ynez

There is a nine-race program at Santa Anita on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, highlighted by the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. The Grade 2 Santa Ynez has drawn a field of nine, including Quick Little Miss, winner of the Barretts Debutante and Moccasin Stakes.

Six of the fillies are coming off a win in a maiden or allowance race. Quick Little Miss finished second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at 1 1/16 miles in her last start on Dec. 17.

High Limit back in training

High Limit, the winner of major stakes in 2005 and 2006, has resumed training and will not stand at stud this year as was originally planned, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

High Limit, 5, has won 5 of 12 starts and $922,500, a career highlighted by wins in the 2005 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the 2006 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. High Limit has not started since finishing fourth in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap last March.

Owned by Gary and Mary West, High Limit breezed three furlongs at Hollywood Park last Monday, his first workout since returning to serious training, Frankel said.

Frankel said High Limit could return to racing before the end of the Santa Anita meeting in April.

Surf Cat back from foot problems

Surf Cat, the winner of three stakes last year, has resumed training after an extensive break caused by foot problems. Surf Cat returned to trainer Bruce Headley's stable at Santa Anita on Thursday.

Surf Cat, 5, has won 7 of 11 starts and $562,420 for owner Marsha Naify and Headley's wife, Aase.

Surf Cat has not started since winning the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park last May. He emerged from that race with a bruised foot.

Bruce Headley does not have a timetable for Surf Cat's return.

"He's just starting the long road back," Headley said this week. "He's just coming out of the pasture."

CHRB files medication complaints

The California Horse Racing Board has filed complaints against Southern California trainers Vladimir Cerin and John Sadler for medication violations that occurred in the second half of 2006.

Hearings have not been scheduled for either trainer.

Sadler was cited after Cat and a Half, the winner of the first race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 11, tested positive for hydroxyzine and cetirizine in postrace urine tests.

Hydroxyzine, a prohibited antihistamine, is used to treat allergies; cetirizine is a metabolite of hydroxyzine. The drugs are listed as Class 3. Trainers whose horses test positive for medications in classes 1, 2, or 3 are subject to possible fines and/or suspensions, and the purses of those races may be redistributed.

Cat and a Half won a claiming race with a purse of $34,000.

Cerin had two horses test positive for norpseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, which are listed as Class 3 drugs. According to a CHRB statement, the two medications can be found in urine after the ingestion of herbal products containing ephedra.

The positives occurred in postrace tests taken from Off the Richter, who finished third in the $61,750 E.B. Johnston Stakes at the Los Angeles County Fair at Fairplex Park on Sept. 10, earning $7,800, and North Fleet Street, the winner of the 12th race at Fairplex on Sept. 25. North Fleet Street won a maiden claimer with a purse of $17,680, earning $9,600.

Gomez won't get days for bump incident

Leading jockey Garrett Gomez was not sanctioned for his ride aboard Like Running Water in Thursday's seventh race, according to steward Tom Ward. Like Running Water finished first in the turf allowance, but was disqualified and placed second for bumping runner-up Crested on two occasions in the stretch.

Through Thursday, Gomez led all riders at the meeting with 13 winners, two more than Victor Espinoza.