12/18/2004 12:00AM

Jockeys refuse to ride on turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For the second straight Saturday, Hollywood Park was forced to move scheduled turf races to the main track when jockeys complained about the condition of the grass course.

Hollywood Park ran races on the turf on both Thursday and Friday without incident, and the weather has been warm and dry all week. Yet after Saturday's second race, jockeys who rode in that race told track management the course was uneven.

The fifth and seventh races were moved to the main track. The fifth was the start of the pick six. Because the announcement was made before the fourth race, pick six bettors had ample time to adjust their tickets.

Pick three wagers that began with the third race, and included the fifth race, however, were impacted by the surface switch. Three horses were late scratches from the fifth. Those horses defaulted to the favorite, Devil Badgett, who won. But pick three bettors who wagered on a grass specialist who did not scratch, and did not perform as well on dirt, were out of luck.

Rick Baedeker, Hollywood Park's president, said the jockeys had no complaints after grass races Thursday or Friday. But Saturday, "they said there are a couple of problem spots that have not dried out," Baedeker said. "Once they express concern, we have to err on the side of safety, and the discussion is over."

Baedeker said an area at the middle of the far turn, and at the half-mile pole, are of concern. No decision on turf racing for Sunday and closing day Monday had been made as of Saturday. Baedeker said the base of the course would be examined after the meet ends.