02/07/2008 1:00AM

Santa Anita cancels again Friday

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Santa Anita officials on Thursday canceled Friday's nine-race program, saying that the ongoing renovation project to improve drainage on the Cushion Track needed an additional 24 hours to complete. Track president Ron Charles said racing would resume on Saturday, with an 11-race program, and that Friday's program would be made up next Wednesday, normally a dark day.

Friday's program was the 11th lost racing day of the meeting, first when the Cushion Track synthetic surface failed to drain after two major rainstorms, and then because of the renovation project, which began last Sunday. Santa Anita has not conducted racing since last Saturday.

The renovation was supposed to be completed before Friday, but it rained last Sunday, and the track had to dry before work could begin. In addition, the application of polymers, the first stage of the renovation, has taken longer than expected, Charles said.

The decision to cancel Friday's program was made at 9 a.m. on Thursday, after Charles conferred with Ian Pearse, the founder of the Australian synthetic surface Pro-Ride. The polymers and fibers that are being added to the Santa Anita main track are from the Pro-Ride surface. Pearse is at Santa Anita overseeing the renovation project.

Charles said the fibers will be added to the track after the polymers have been applied, which was expected to be done Thursday. "The fiber goes in fast," Charles said. "After that, we want to go around with the equipment and make sure it's mixed and make sure the track is regulated."

Charles said he expected that a limited number of horses would be able to train on the track Friday morning.

Thursday, a tanker spread a mocha-colored polymer over a 100-yard area near the finish line, followed by four tractors pulling harrowing devices that mixed the material into the track. The process was repeated four or five times before the tanker and the tractors moved farther out onto the racetrack to begin the application over new ground.

In some areas of the racetrack, the addition of the polymer has taken "seven or eight passes," Charles said. "There is a science to the application."

The fiber, which resembles gray insulation, covers most of the track area that has already been treated with polymer, through the clubhouse turn and the backstretch. It has yet to be mixed down into the surface. Once that is accomplished, the track will have a darker hue than the previous beach sand appearance.

Santa Anita will ask the California Horse Racing Board for permission to add several Wednesdays in March and April to make up for the lost racing dates, Charles said.