10/29/2010 10:17AM

Local materials to be used in new Santa Anita track

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Santa Anita will use sand from a Southern California quarry on its new conventional main track surface that is being installed this fall, track president George Haines said on Thursday.

The surface is scheduled to be installed in November, and the project will be completed in time for horses to begin training on the surface on Dec. 6, he said. The track’s winter-spring meeting begins on Dec. 26.

The new surface will consist of 90 percent sand, using two types of sand, and 10 percent clay, which was found in nearby Corona, Calif. Haines indicated that the project will cost "over $3 million."

According to Jason Spetnagel, Santa Anita’s director of facilities and grounds, the type of sands that will be used include washed sands that are “medium to fine” in size and “fine.” The two types of sand will be mixed with the clay to Santa Anita’s specifications at a quarry in Irwindale, Calif., approximately 10 miles from the racetrack and will be transported to the track closer to the installation.

“The two sand components are both natural sand,” Spetnagel said. “The differences are the particle sizes. One is medium to fine and the other is fine.”

Spetnagel said the final surface will consists of two parts of the fine to medium sand and one part of the fine sand mixed with clay. “The three components will be blended there, and delivered here when we need it,” he said.

The new surface consists of approximately 23,000 tons of base material and 28,000 tons of sand and clay, Spetnagel said.

Currently, Santa Anita is removing the rock base of its Pro-Ride synthetic track. Removal of the synthetic track began earlier this month. Beginning the week of Nov. 11, the construction of a seven-inch rock base for the new track will begin, Spetnagel said.

Haines said during installation of the base maintenance crews will use global position system monitors to measure the base in an effort to ensure uniformity. “We can make sure everything is consistent,” he said. “When the surface gets moved around and we go back and do repairs, we can come back to the same measurements.”

When installation of the base is completed, the application of the upper layer of sand and clay will begin in late November, a process that Spetnagel said will occur quickly beginning the week of Nov. 22. The base and upper layers of the surface will have a depth of 15 to 17 inches, Spetnagel said.

“It will take a week to put in that material and five days of working it to get it ready for horses, maybe a little more than that,” he said.

Frank Stronach, the chairman of Santa Anita’s parent company, MI Developments, committed to installing a conventional surface in August. In recent months, the track has held discussions with owners’ and trainers’ groups and the California Horse Racing Board on what sort of surface to install.

“It sounds like it’s moving along,” said Arnold Zetcher, the president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. “The important thing is the trainers are in agreement in what they are doing.”

Haines said discussions with contractors indicate that the overall timeline is on schedule. One other vital element is a waiver from the California Horse Racing Board to install a conventional track, which Santa Anita will request at a racing board meeting on Nov. 9. In 2007, the racing board issued a mandate for all major tracks in the state to install synthetic surfaces. In recent months, the racing board has been supportive of Santa Anita’s transition to a dirt track.

Santa Anita has not hosted training since mid-July. The track has requested stall applications from horsemen for the winter-spring meeting by Nov. 12.