01/06/2012 4:02PM

Santa Anita adds material to main track


The Santa Anita main track underwent maintenance to add material earlier this week and will undergo further work to prevent compaction in coming days.

A weekly meeting between members of the California Thoroughbred Trainers and track maintenance officials on Thursday included a discussion on the work being done on the track, according to CTT president John Sadler.

Track officials said the surface will be “cut” by an additional eighth of an inch during maintenance Tuesday. Such maintenance is conducted regularly during the meeting to keep the track from overly compacting. Race times can sometimes be slower in the days after such maintenance, but increase after days of use in the mornings and afternoons.

“This is very minor,” Sadler said.

Ted Malloy, a surface consultant for the track’s parent company, The Stronach Group, said that 30 to 40 tons of material will be added to the surface, replacing what has been tracked back into the barn area, taken off the track by harrows, or disappeared in other ways.

“We do it a little bit at a time,” Malloy said. “We don’t want to do anything drastic.”

Malloy is not at Santa Anita on a full-time basis. Jason Spetnagel, Santa Anita’s director of facilities and grounds, and track supervisor Andy LaRocco oversee track maintenance.

Although there have been no track records on the main surface since the Dec. 26 opening day, times have been fast. Malloy partially attributed that to the sand content of the surface and frequent application of water.

“When they start racing, it’s being watered seven or eight times in the afternoons,” he said.

Malloy said any changes in the complexion of the track, and how horses react to it, must be done slowly.

“We could change the track in a heartbeat, but I don’t like to change the form,” he said.

The additional material is taken from piles stored in a backstretch parking lot. The surface currently in use underwent a renovation last summer to reduce clay content and increase the amount of sand in the surface.