02/07/2004 1:00AM

Late call to take race off turf

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Saturday's seventh race at Gulfstream Park was taken off the grass, but the change wasn't announced until the horses were entering the paddock for the third-level allowance race. The switch to the main track resulted in four of the 10 scheduled starters to scratch, including morning line favorites Silver Tree and Steadfast and True.

According to track president Scott Savin, the jockeys informed management of their decision not to ride on the turf only six minutes before post time for the sixth race. The fifth race had been run over a yielding course.

"The jockeys didn't tell us they wouldn't ride over the turf course until 25 minutes after the fifth race had concluded," Savin said. "We had the rail out 30 feet the last couple of days to make sure the inside of the course was okay for today's card."

The incident was reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred here in 2002 when fans were given similar short notice that the final race on the program had been taken off the turf. The ensuing scratches severely impacted daily double, pick three, and pick four pools. A new rule implemented earlier this meet now allows for consolation payoffs to be made on the scratched horses in pick three pools.