02/21/2007 1:00AM

Santa Anita to go synthetic this year

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The uncertainty surrounding whether Santa Anita planned to install a synthetic racing surface apparently ended Wednesday when the track's president, Ron Charles, announced that track owner Magna Entertainment Corp. will install a synthetic surface later this year.

In a prepared release, Charles said: "Installing a synthetic surface at Santa Anita is the right thing to do for our industry. We feel that it's important that horsemen in California and across the country are aware that we are going to install the new surface during the upcoming Del Mar meeting."

The announcement from Charles ended weeks of ambiguity regarding Santa Anita's plans for a new surface. Last week, Charles expressed concern at challenges other tracks have faced with synthetic surfaces. Santa Anita has not announced which surface it will install. Hollywood Park has Cushion Track, while Del Mar is installing Polytrack.

"We've been trying to ensure that any surface we install can stand up to the extreme heat that we can experience here at Santa Anita during the Oak Tree race meeting," Charles said in the statement.

This year's Oak Tree meet begins Sept. 26.