01/28/2011 6:08PM

Santa Anita main track may close Tuesday for maintenance


ARCADIA, Calif. –  Santa Anita continues to conduct maintenance on its main track, adding sand after racing last Sunday and again Thursday afternoon.

Track officials are considering closing the main track Tuesday for a day of maintenance to mix material on the outside and inside of the surface and improve the blend of sand, clay, and silt.

As of midday Friday, there were no definitive plans to close the track for training on Tuesday, according to a track spokesman.

The surface is scheduled to be roto-tilled, a process that mixes the top several inches of the surface to avoid compaction. The roto-tilling procedure was conducted on a weekly basis in late January, often on a Monday or Tuesday.

In the last week, Santa Anita has added sand to the surface to replace material washed away during extensive rainstorms in late December. Track president George Haines described the additional sand as “a light dusting. We’ll do that on a gradual basis.”

Trainer Darrell Vienna, the Southern California vice president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said the extensive renovation being considered by track officials will help to mix material.

“Because of rain, there has been a migration [of material] from the outside to the inside,” he said.

Overall, Vienna said the members of his organization are pleased with the surface, which was installed in late November and early December and used for the first time during racing beginning Dec. 26. The track has played extremely fast, with track records at six, 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

Vienna described the surface “as an improvement” over the preceding synthetic track but acknowledged that there are concerns that the surface favors front-runners.

“You need a track that is safe and a track that is fair to all runners,” he said. “A horse shouldn’t sustain a detriment because of a style of racing.”