02/17/2017 1:16PM

Santa Anita adds two Thursday cards to spring schedule


Santa Anita will add Thursday programs on April 20 and June 1 to its schedule to compensate for three days of cancellations because of wet weather during January and on Friday, track senior vice president Joe Morris said Friday.

The track did not race Friday because a storm was expected to deliver several inches of rain. Racing was also canceled Jan. 12 and Jan. 22 because of extensive rain.

The April 20 program will be the start of a four-day racing week during the second week of the spring-summer meeting that begins April 14. The April 20 program is scheduled to be the first day of turf races at the spring-summer meeting. The April 14-16 opening weekend will have only dirt races to give the turf course a rest, Morris said.

The June 1 program comes three days after racing on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. The June 1 races will be the first of four days of racing that week through Sunday.

Santa Anita announced the cancellation of Friday’s program early Thursday afternoon. Rain was falling before 9 a.m. Friday and was expected to continue through the day and night.

“I’ve set the over-under at five inches,” Morris said Friday morning.

“It is raining, but not at the ferocity of what we’re going to receive. The forecast has not let up.”

Morris said additional races will be added to programs to further compensate for the lost programs. There are 10 races Sunday, and plans were in place Friday morning to run an additional race on Monday’s Presidents Day program. It was unclear how much turf racing would be conducted this weekend because of the rain.

This has been one of the wettest winters in California history, particularly in the last 60 days. The current winter-spring meeting began Dec. 26 and will continue through April 9 before the start of the spring-summer meeting days later.

The wet weather has affected field size. Through Thursday, fields have averaged 7.56 runners per race compared with 8.3 runners during a similar period last year. The entire 2015-16 spring-summer meeting had an average of 8.1 runners per race.

Morris said he expects the average field size to rise before April 9, particularly if conditions improve in March and early April.

“You don’t want to see the average runners per race down, but it’s weather-influenced,” he said.