07/22/2006 12:00AM

Officials take action on surface


DEL MAR, Calif. - Del Mar will add sand to its main track and will urge trainers to alter their morning training schedules in an effort to reduce a rash of injuries that have plagued the first week of the meeting.

Through Friday, three horses had been euthanized after being injured during racing. Friday, Playful Blint, a $10,000 claimer, was euthanized after suffering sesamoid injuries in the fourth race, trainer Steve Knapp said. Blazing Sunset was injured in a division of Wednesday's Oceanside Stakes. On Thursday, Ugotadowhatugotado was injured on the backstretch of a sprint for claimers.

At a meeting on Saturday morning between several trainers, track officials, and officials with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, Del Mar's track superintendent, Steve Wood, said that sand would be added to the surface to prevent surface material from clumping.

"There was concern abut the track balling up, and Steve Wood has addressed that by adding sand to the surface," said Dr. Rick Arthur, a private veterinarian who will become the California Horse Racing Board's equine medical director later this year.

The participants of the meeting also urged trainers to spread workouts throughout the morning. Most horses are exercised before 8:30 a.m. Trainers will be urged to work more horses in the 9 o'clock hour, after the last of three renovations.

In addition, track officials are considering adding a third examining veterinarian to conduct morning inspections of that day's starters. At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, the track's president, Joe Harper, gave no indication if that would take effect.

The causes of the injuries could not be blamed on one factor, according to trainer Richard Mandella. He said a larger horse population at Del Mar has been a contributing factor, creating traffic problems.

Santa Anita's main track is closed for renovation until Tuesday, which led to more trainers being based at Del Mar this summer. Hollywood Park is closed for the summer to install a synthetic surface for its fall meeting.