08/27/2008 12:00AM

Santa Anita surface ready to go

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Santa Anita will reopen its synthetic main track on Saturday after a seven-week renovation, and Hollywood Park will close its synthetic main track on Monday for a five-day renovation, officials at the two tracks said on Wednesday.

Since July 14, Santa Anita maintenance crews have replaced the track's Cushion Track brand synthetic surface with elements of the Pro-Ride surface from Australia. The new surface is expected to aid in drainage, which has been a persistent problem since the first synthetic surface was installed in August 2007.

The track's president, Ron Charles, said training will start on Saturday, a day after the first horses arrive. Earlier this month, 14,500 tons of sand, polymer, and fiber were mixed in a temporary plant in the track parking lot and then spread on the racetrack.

"We continue to test the surface," Charles said. "Now, it's a matter of prepping it and seeing if we have to make any minor changes."

The resurfacing has drawn nationwide attention. The Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, which begins Sept. 24, will host the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 24 and 25.

The recent renovation was conducted under the direction of Pro-Ride's founder, Ian Pearse, and is the third major overhaul of the Santa Anita surface in the last year.

The new surface will have a depth of 13 to 15 inches and include a nonporous membrane above the base, drainage pipes, two levels of gravel and rocks, a mesh membrane designed to keep rocks from floating to the surface, a two-inch blend of sand and grit, and several inches of the Pro-Ride material.

Hollywood Park will add rubber, fiber, and wax to its Cushion Track surface next week, according to a track consultant, Dennis Moore, who will oversee the project. The materials arrived from England last week.

Moore said the five-day project will begin with an evaluation of the track's elevation and grade.

"We want to make sure it's where it's supposed to be," he said. "We will do some roto-tilling and we will add rubber, fiber, and wax. We're going to be replacing some of the rubber and fiber that has gotten carried off the track on a day-to-day basis."

At the end of the track's spring-summer meeting, the course was criticized by trainers for having lost vibrancy. Moore said the renovation "will put it back to having its resiliency."

Hollywood Park's main track is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 8. The backstretch training track will be open while the main track is closed.

Del Mar officials said their barn area will remain open until Sept. 5, and that all horses must vacate the property by Sept. 6.