01/21/2010 12:00AM

Forecast puts card in doubt


ARCADIA, Calif. - Weather conditions on Wednesday and early Thursday will determine if racing goes forward at Santa Anita on Thursday, as scheduled, or whether a rain-soaked main track will force a second day of racing to be canceled this week.

Santa Anita officials canceled Monday's program after the track was hit with more than 1 1/2 inches of rain from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning. The rain subsided late Monday, allowing for limited training on the outside part of the main track on Tuesday, which like Wednesday was a dark day. But another rainstorm predicted to hit Wednesday, which forecasters have warned will be more severe than the Sunday-Monday storm, could doom the prospects for racing.

The Pro-Ride synthetic track has not drained sufficiently in wet weather. Last month, before Santa Anita began its meeting, the track lost two days of training because of severe rain.

Monday, the track's president, Ron Charles acknowledged that officials will replace the existing synthetic track later this year, and that a dirt surface could be installed. Santa Anita has had a synthetic main track since August 2007.

If racing is conducted on Thursday, there will be just seven races, with a maximum of 51 starters. Concerned about the availability of race-ready horses in Southern California, Santa Anita is offering one fewer race than normal for a weekday. An eight-race program is scheduled for Friday.

Charles said seven-race programs could become more frequent on weekdays if there are insufficient horses to conduct eight races per day.

"It's something we'll make a decision on a daily basis," Charles said. "We think it will strengthen our weekend programs."

Field sizes are down at the current meeting. Through Sunday, the 18th day of the 82-day meeting, fields have averaged 7.8 starters. Through the same day last year, fields averaged 8.3 starters.

Thursday's feature race is an optional claimer over a mile on the main track. Slew's Tiznow, a two-time stakes winner, will make his first start for trainer Jamie Lloyd, having been previously trained by Doug O'Neill. Lloyd said Slew's Tiznow could be scratched if conditions are not ideal, with the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 7 another possibility.