12/19/2010 11:03PM

Rain keeps Santa Anita closed for training


Santa Anita’s main track was closed for training for the second consecutive day on Sunday, with the likelihood of further days of cancellations early in the week because of continued wet weather, track president George Haines said.

From early Friday to midday Sunday, the track had sustained four inches of rain, with at least three inches, and possibly more, expected from Pacific storms through Wednesday, he said.

 “It’s been raining steadily,” Haines said. “It looks we’ll be getting more. We’ll have to see how the weather plays out, but more than likely it will be closed.

“We’ll have rain through Wednesday and hopefully we’ll get a break on Thursday and Friday. It’s iffy after that.”

According to weather.com, there is no rain forecast from Thursday through Saturday in Southern California, with a chance of rain on Dec. 26.

The wet weather led to the cancellation of Hollywood Park’s Sunday program after two of the nine races. Jockeys cited concern about an area on the backstretch as the reason they recommended to management to cancel the program.

The next day of live racing in Southern California is the Dec. 26 opening of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which will be the first run on a new sand and clay track installed this fall.

The new track replaced a synthetic surface that was plagued with drainage problems in wet weather for the last three years. The track lost 11 days of racing during the 2007-08 meeting, the first season with a synthetic surface, and five days of racing earlier this year because of poor drainage.

Training on the new surface began Dec. 6. This weekend’s rain was the first disruption since the surface was installed.

Haines said that Ted Malloy, who oversaw the installation of the new track, was en route to California at the beginning of the week to check on the condition of the course.

Darrell Vienna, the Southern California vice-president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said he did not notice any major damage to the track on Sunday morning.

“I didn’t see any washouts or any rivulets,” he said. “It looks like it’s sealed.”

Vienna said Arcadia, Calif., where Santa Anita is located, gets approximately 17 to 18 inches of rain a year. The current rainstorm, from Friday through Wednesday, may drop as much as 10 inches, he said.

“The main concern is not how quickly we can get the track open but that it’s good for opening day,” he said. “That’s our primary concern. We’re in the midst of a huge rainfall. The issue isn’t synthetic or dirt. It’s substantial rainfall.”

The track was sealed on Saturday, compacting the surface in an effort to force rain to run off the top of the surface and to avoid saturation.

The poor conditions come at a time when trainers are anxious to get horses accustomed to the surface in advance of the new racing season. Friday, there were 111 recorded works on the main track. On Saturday and Sunday, horses were trained on the infield training track.

“We’ve been working closely with CTT and they understand the situation and where we are,” Haines said.