07/15/2011 2:29PM

Santa Anita track renovation needs one more week

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. − Santa Anita has removed more than 17,000 tons of material from its main track in an effort to reduce the clay content and add sand, a project that may not be finished for another week.

Track president George Haines said the top six inches of the track have been removed and will be diluted with a “clean sand, with very little clay content.” The project began after training last Monday and was expected to take 10 days. Haines said Thursday that the project may take longer than that and may be done by next weekend.

“We might be a little bit late, but we want to do it right,” he said. “It’s hard telling right now. We think we’re on our timeline.”

Initially, Santa Anita intended to remove 7,500 tons of material and replace it with an equal amount of material with a higher sand content. The current project is more elaborate in volume.

“We’re going a little further now,” Haines said.

Once removed, the material is being mixed with clean sand and tested for composition and will then be put back onto the racetrack. The blending process, conducted in a temporary facility in the track’s north parking lot, was scheduled to begin Friday and take several days, Haines said.

Mick Peterson, a noted racetrack surface expert from the University of Maine, is participating in the refurbishment and analyzing composition of the racetrack. A laboratory in Texas is also analyzing soil samples, Haines said.

The project has been planned for months after studies conducted on the main track during the winter-spring meeting found the combination of sand, silt, and clay to be different than what was recommended when the track was installed last fall.

The track is aiming for a composition of 87.5 percent sand, 8 percent silt, and 4.5 percent clay. Studies conducted at various times during the race meeting earlier this year showed the sand content ranged from 76.8 to 79.2 percent, silt content ranged from 13.1 to 15.8 percent, and clay content ranged from 6 to 8.7 percent.

Santa Anita is scheduled to be open for training later this summer during the Del Mar meeting. The date of the reopening of the main track will not be known for several days, until the remixing process is completed. Following that, the material will be put back onto the racetrack, which will watered and harrowed “to make a racetrack of it,” Haines said.