01/02/2002 1:00AM

Santa Anita shelves Big A


Santa Anita Park has dropped the simulcast signal from Aqueduct in New York in favor of Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Santa Anita officials said Wednesday.

The decision to drop Aqueduct was "based entirely on the fact that the signal from Fair Grounds is much more dependable than the signal from New York at this time of year" because of weather conditions, said Jack Liebau, chief executive officer of Santa Anita. "Normally we have five or six last-minute cancelations from Aqueduct each year in January because of bad weather," Liebau said.

Santa Anita will also import the signal from Gulfstream Park, owned by Santa Anita's parent company, Magna Entertainment. Liebau said Santa Anita will also take some races from Turf Paradise in Arizona and will continue to simulcast stakes races from Aqueduct. The Aqueduct signal may be restored later in the year, Liebau said.

New York officials were not available for comment Wednesday, a dark day at Aqueduct.