08/18/2006 11:00PM

New surface material still en route

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Hollywood Park has completed construction of the subsurface for its synthetic track that will be used for racing this fall and is awaiting arrival of the synthetic cushion material from England in the next week.

It is unclear exactly when the material will arrive in California or when the installation will be completed, allowing Hollywood Park to reopen its track for training.

According to the track's general manger, Eual Wyatt, the boat containing the synthetic material is in the Gulf of Mexico, and has yet to cross through the Panama Canal.

Once the material arrives, Wyatt is hopeful there will be minimal delays before the installation process can begin.

The synthetic surface, known as Cushion Track, is a mixture of silica sand, synthetic fibers, elastic fibers, and granulated rubber coated with a blend of wax. Cushion Track is a product of Equestrian Surfaces of Burnley, England. The material was constructed in England earlier this summer.

Wyatt said track officials hope to begin installing Cushion Track by the end of August, a few days later than the schedule discussed earlier this summer. He said that the initially expected arrival date for the material was Aug. 25, "but I don't think they're going to make that."

Wyatt said it is unclear how many days it will take to install the new material. So far, the track has constructed a 12-inch subsurface that features 4 1/2 miles of pipe and a base of porous rocks. There will be nine inches of Cushion Track material on top of that base.

Hollywood Park has been closed for training since its spring-summer meeting ended on July 16. A delay in the installation process could conflict with the end of the Del Mar meeting on Sept. 6, a time when many horsemen who spend the majority of the year at Hollywood Park would like to return there. Wyatt said it is unclear whether the installation will be completed by Sept. 6. A delay could result in horsemen being asked to stay at Del Mar beyond the close of the meet.

"It's not practical to have that kind of activity with horses on the grounds," he said of the installation process.

Hollywood Park will be the first track in California to install a synthetic surface. The California Horse Racing Board has mandated that all Thoroughbred tracks running at least four weeks of continuous racing have a synthetic surface in place for the 2008 season.