12/19/2010 6:36PM

Poor track conditions force Hollywood to cancel Sunday card after two races

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BENOIT PHOTO
It was wet and cold late during Saturday's card when Comma to the Top rolled home in the CashCall Futurity. Track conditions worsened Sunday, when Hollywood Park canceled after running just two races.

               

 

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Sunday program at Hollywood Park was canceled following the second race after jockeys deemed the course unsafe because of persistent rain through the day.

Jockey Mike Smith, who was among a group of riders who inspected the course after the second race, said there was an area on the backstretch, where the chute joined the main track at the six-furlong pole, concerned the riders.

“Coming out of the chute, it was just too deep,” Smith said.

Smith said the inside three paths of the track, closest to the rail, were better around the rest of the backstretch, but “outside of four, it got really deep,” he said.

He proposed changing the distances of the remaining races to 5 1/2 or six furlongs, which would have required shortening the distances of five of the remaining races.

“If we could have run three-quarters to the wire, we would have gotten away with it,” Smith said.

Track president Jack Liebau said changing the distances would have been impractical because the betting public, primarily offtrack customers, may not have been aware of the change.

 ‘I don’t think it’s fair to the racing public,” Liebau said. “We can make all the announcements we want here, but we can’t be sure that the public off-track will be aware of the different distances.”

Only two of the last seven races were scheduled for 5 1/2 furlongs, with the rest scheduled to be run at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

The first indication of trouble came after the second race when the track announced the third race would be delayed. A group of riders - including Smith, Rafael Bejarano, David Flores, Alonso Quinonez, and Joe Talamo – walked to the backstretch to inspect the area near the chute.

When they returned to the jockeys’ room, they met briefly with Liebau and general manager Eual Wyatt Jr., before the cancellation was announced.

It was unclear how much rain the track had sustained, although rain had fallen steadily since Friday. The $75,000 On Trust Handicap for California-breds over 7 1/2 furlongs, which would have started at the end of the backstretch chute, was among the races canceled.