10/12/2010 1:59PM

Santa Anita begins removing Pro-Ride surface

Benoit & Associates
Work began Monday on renovating the Santa Anita racing surface.

Santa Anita began the removal of its Pro-Ride synthetic track Monday and may finalize the composition of the conventional dirt track that will be installed this fall in coming days, track president George Haines said Tuesday.

Heavy equipment began removing the synthetic track Monday, a process that will take about three weeks to complete, Haines said. A new base is tentatively scheduled to be installed in the first two weeks of November, followed by a three-week process to install the upper layers of the surface.

Main-track training is expected to resume Dec. 6, or nearly three weeks before the start of the winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26.

“We’re full steam ahead,” Haines said. “It will go really quickly once the material is off.

“It should take three weeks to get the material off down to the dirt base. We’ll start layering the new material over that. We’re right on our time.”

The upper layers of the surface will consist of 12 inches of material that “has different compaction levels,” Haines said. “The top three to four inches of material is the cushion, and the horses run on top of that.”

This week, Santa Anita officials hope to finalize the soil mix that will be used on the racing surface.

“We’re still in the process of selecting the material,” Haines said. “Our group is gathering more material right now, and it’s being sent out for testing. Hopefully, we’ll have news on that very shortly.”

According to a statement released by the track Tuesday, the top layers of the surface will be mixed at Vulcan Materials, a rock quarry east of Santa Anita. Once the material is finalized, it will be sent to UC-Davis and to Dr. Mick Peterson, a noted racetrack specialist at the University of Maine, for testing.

Ted Malloy, who is overseeing the installation of the Santa Anita surface, said in a statement, “the soils will be coming from several different places, and Vulcan will make the cushion mixed out of a conglomeration of several types of sand and clay, to our specifications.”

He said the track will need a week to settle once installation is complete.

“After the cushion is in place, we will harrow and water it until the material is stabilized. This should take at least one week.”

Santa Anita has yet to receive a waiver from the California Horse Racing Board to install a dirt track. The racing board in 2007 issued a mandate for all major tracks in the state to install synthetic tracks, but in recent months the board has been supportive of Santa Anita’s transition to a dirt track.