02/03/2008 12:00AM

Santa Anita cancels; track work could be delayed

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ARCADIA, Calif.-Santa Anita canceled racing on Sunday after the Cushion Track synthetic surface failed to drain properly following overnight rain. It was unclear on Sunday morning when racing would resume later in the week.

Santa Anita intended to start a four-day renovation of the main track after the conclusion of racing on Sunday afternoon, but there is a chance the project could be postponed until Monday, depending on how much rain falls on Sunday, track president Ron Charles said.

Racing has already been canceled on Monday and Thursday (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are dark), to allow time for the renovation. If the project is not completed by late Thursday, there will be no racing on Friday, track executives said on Sunday.

“We’re still trying for Friday,” Charles said. “We’ll have a pretty good feel of where we are on Monday.”

Charles said he hopes to begin the renovation late Sunday afternoon, if the track is not too wet.

“The key is how far the water has gone done” in the surface, he said. “If it’s down an inch and a half, we’ll be okay. If it’s down two or three inches, it could slow the process down.”

Sunday’s program was the eighth racing day lost because of wet weather since early January. At 8 a.m. on Sunday, there was a small amount of standing water on the outside of the track and near the rail at the finish line, but not as much as before previous cancellations. A steady late rain fell through the morning. The decision to cancel racing was made at 8:45 a.m.

“We think we’ll get a half-inch to six-tenths,” Charles said. “The main reason we cancelled is there was too much standing water and we felt it was unsafe in those areas. We erred on the side of caution and I think we’re doing the right thing one more time”

There was no training on the main track, but there was training on the infield training track.

The maintenance project will add polymers and rubberized fibers from the Pro-Ride synthetic surface to the Cushion Track, which consists of sand, rubber and fibers coated in wax.

Ian Pearse, the found of the Australian company Pro-Ride, is at Santa Anita this week, advising track superintendent Richard Tedesco and his staff on the maintenance project.

The $250,000 San Antonio Handicap, which was part of Sunday’s program, will be run on Saturday, a program that includes two $250,000 Grade 1 races for females – the Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the Santa Maria Handicap for older fillies and mares. When racing does resume, there will be a pick six carryover of $181,514 from Saturday’s program.

Charles said Santa Anita will ask California Horse Racing Board officials for additional racing dates in February to make up for the recent cancellations.

“What we’re trying to do is get back to a normal schedule with additional racing dates,” he said. “The horsemen are anxious to race. Within the next 10 days, we’ll be applying for the number of dates we’d like to add.”

Charles said that Wednesdays are likely to be added to the final weeks of the meeting in March and April and that races could be added to weekdays programs. The meeting ends on April 20.