01/15/2007 12:00AM

Portland Meadows cancels two cards

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Racing at Portland Meadows for both Sunday and Monday was canceled on Sunday because of what the riders considered an unsafe racing surface. The riders declines to ride shortly before Sunday's scheduled first race.

"The surface is uneven," said rider Javier Ortega, a Jockeys' Guild representative. "It is harder in some spots and softer in others. We just don't think it is safe for the horses to run over it."

Management subsequently decided to cancel Monday's card to give the track crew time to work on the surface.

The track crew, responding to horsemen's complaints that the track base was too hard, dug up the track to a depth of six inches, then compacted it and cut a new cushion on Wednesday. Their efforts to get the track back in racing condition by Sunday were hampered by unusually cold temperatures in the 20's.

"They did a very good job considering the weather," said Ortega. "The track isn't as hard as it was. It's just a little uneven now."

The track, which races on a Sunday-through-Tuesday basis, hoped to resume racing on Tuesday.