02/08/2008 12:00AM

Santa Anita track work down to wire

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Richard Migliore described the newly renovated Santa Anita synthetic main track as a "work in progress" after galloping a horse on the surface Friday, but gave the surface a generally favorable review.

Migliore was aboard one of three horses that were exercised on the track late Friday morning as a four-day renovation process neared its conclusion. The surface was scheduled to be used for the first time in races Saturday.

The renovation project added polymer and fibers from an Australian synthetic surface, Pro-Ride, to the existing Cushion Track brand surface that was installed last August. The Cushion Track surface failed to drain after two major rainstorms in January, leading to the cancellation of 11 days of racing in January and early February.

Migliore galloped a maiden trained by Richard Mandella on the backstretch, the only portion of the track that was ready for horses.

"As far as how he got over the ground, he was fine," Migliore said of his mount. "It's a work in progress and it needs to be leveled off. It's got a little undulation."

Migliore said the white fibers, which resemble small pieces of cotton, caught the attention of the horses.

"It doesn't seem fully incorporated," he said of the fibers.

Ian Pearse, the founder of Pro-Ride who has overseen the renovation project, said the work to groom the track was scheduled to continue until early Saturday morning, if necessary. The renovation was supposed to be completed before Friday, but a rainstorm last Sunday caused the track to dry slowly before work could begin.

"I'm happy with the way this looks right now," Pearse said, sticking a toe into the surface. He described the surface as "70 to 80 percent Pro-Ride. The Pro-Ride we use from scratch has a different type of sand."

Friday afternoon, Pearse and track maintenance crews were busy mixing the fibers into the remainder of the surface from the three-eighths pole to the finish line. The rest of the track had already been mixed.

Asked if he felt the surface would be satisfactory for racing, Migliore said, "It has to be. I need to work."

o The issue of synthetic tracks will be discussed at a California Horse Racing Board meeting at Santa Anita on Feb. 20. According to a memo released by racing board chairman Richard Shapiro, the meeting will include panel discussions on several issues related to synthetic tracks.