01/23/2010 12:00AM

Racing resumes at Santa Anita after week of rain


ARCADIA, Calif. - Clearing skies and an absence of rain allowed Santa Anita to resume racing Saturday, the first time the track had been able to race since Jan. 17. Cards on Monday, Thursday, and Friday are were canceled because the main track, the synthetic surface Pro-Ride, failed to sufficiently drain.

"The track feels good. It's a little heavy, but it has a good bottom," jockey Martin Pedroza said as he arrived for the races about 90 minutes before first post. He had worked several horses Saturday morning. Pedroza said not all riders agreed with the decision to race, but he said he felt comfortable with the surface.

Several riders - including Tyler Baze and Garrett Gomez - were seen walking the main track near the finish line about an hour before the first race, along with Darrell Haire of the Jockeys' Guild. There was no standing water atop the track, unlike in previous days. Both races scheduled for the turf were moved to the main track.

There were numerous late scratches. Three horses came out of the first race, leaving a field of four. There were six late scratches from the third race, leaving a field of six in a race that was originally on the turf. Five horses came out of the sixth race, leaving four runners. There was one late scratch, Ez Dreamer, from the featured Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap. Along with the scratch the previous day of M One Rifle, that left a field of seven.

Ron Charles, the track's president, said between 8 and 8 1/2 inches of rain had hit the track since Jan. 17. Charles said track superintendent Richard Tedesco was able to aerate a troublesome area near the finish line, allowing the standing water to drain.

"He's been able to punch holes in it, break up the membrane, which allows the track to drain," Charles said.

Charles said the current main track will be replaced following this meet ending in April. As to whether Santa Anita will go to another synthetic surface or return to dirt, Charles said, "We're hoping to have an announcement soon."

In recent weeks, Frank Stronach has retained control of Santa Anita through MI Developments, Magna Entertainment Corp.'s parent company. He has been a proponent of dirt tracks, so dirt is the betting favorite. Charles said that Stronach retaining control of the track, after months of uncertainty owing to Magna Entertainment's bankruptcy, has "taken a lot of the shackles off."