07/23/2010 3:23PM

Del Mar tweaking its racing surface


DEL MAR, Calif. – The Polytrack synthetic surface at Del Mar will undergo renovation this weekend and will be heavily mixed on Monday, in an effort to avoid the circumstances that led to the cancellation of training on Thursday, track superintendent Richard Tedesco said on Friday.

Training was cancelled because of inconsistencies in the surface, primarily the result of separation of the sand and fiber that is part of the Polytrack material. Racing was held as scheduled on Thursday afternoon.

After training on Friday, Tedesco and a maintenance crew were busy preparing the surface for a late afternoon racing program by using a device called a cultivator to blend material.

“I’m trying to get a little better mix on the track,” Tedesco said.

Tedesco said the issue of sand and fiber separating is not unique to Del Mar’s Polytrack surface.

“I called Keeneland and they said they’ve had the same thing,” he said. “I know what I’ll have to do to combat it and I’ll work on it more. I’m on a learning curve here.”

Tedesco, who also oversees Santa Anita’s main track, began working on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface in early July. The race meeting began on Wednesday.

Monday, the track will be roto-tilled, or heavily mixed, to a depth of approximately six inches. The roto-tilling process is designed to avoid compaction in the top layers.

A missed day of training on Thursday led to a busy morning of workouts on Friday, with 182 works on the main track.

Trainer Peter Miller, who won Thursday’s sixth race for maiden claimers with Comma to the Top, said the track was “a little tighter and faster” on Thursday. Miller said he thought the track was safe.

Trainer John Sadler, the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said he has heard a variety of opinions on the surface from the members of his organization.

“It seemed like everyone was fairly happy [Thursday afternoon],” he said. “You get every opinion.”

Sadler himself did not work any horses on Friday, but expected to be busy on Saturday, having given his runners another day of galloping on Friday.

Track work at Santa Anita, too

Santa Anita will conduct a renovation on its Pro-Ride synthetic track this summer, attempting to remedy a drainage problem near the finish line that has plagued the track during significant rainstorms.

Track president George Haines told the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday that a renovation will begin on Monday and continue through August. Santa Anita is closed for training this summer during the Del Mar meeting, allowing the track to undergo renovations when no horses reside on the grounds. This summer, Hollywood Park is open for training during Del Mar.

In recent years, an area measuring approximately 20 yards by 50 yards near the finish line at Santa Anita has failed to drain sufficiently. Earlier this year, five days of racing was lost because of poor drainage in that spot and others on the main track.

After the racing board meeting, Haines said the synthetic material will be removed down in the area of concern to allow changes to be made to the base to facilitate drainage.

Last month, track chairman Frank Stronach said the surface would not be replaced this summer or fall, but may be replaced next summer, pending tests at a training center in Florida this winter.

First-timers should run well

One is by a world-famous stallion. The other cost $250,000 at a 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year.

The 2-year-old fillies Pacific Pride and Dazzling Display make their first starts in Sunday’s fourth race at Del Mar, and their trainers expressed confidence in their chances on Friday.

The maiden race is run over 5 1/2 furlongs, and could produce runners for the Grade 1 Darley Debutante over seven furlongs on Sept. 4.

Pacific Pride, by former leading stallion Storm Cat, is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and has worked quickly at Golden Gate Fields and Del Mar in recent weeks.

“She’s worked really well,” Hollendorfer said. “I’m not going to predict a win, but I’m going to predict a big effort.”

Dazzling Display is trained by Bob Baffert, who described her as a filly “that can run.” Dazzling Display was purchased for $250,000 by Kaleem Shah at the Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Baffert also starts Romanette, who was second to the well-regarded Wickedly Perfect in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on June 27. “They’re both nice fillies,” he said of his starters.

Sunday’s maiden race has seven first-time starters. Trainer Brian Koriner starts Intenational, who has recorded quick works in the last month.

Match race at Fairplex

Fairplex Park will host a match race featuring veteran jockeys David Flores and Martin Pedroza on the opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair meeting on Sept. 9, track officials announced on Thursday.

The match race, titled the King of the Ring, will feature the two dominant riders at the county fair in recent years. The race will be run over 1 1/16 miles and is for maiden claimers.

“We think it will help in building interest in the meet,” said Kim Lloyd, the equine manager at Fairplex Park.

Fairplex Park’s meeting runs from Sept. 9-27.