09/15/2016 1:10PM

Santa Anita turf course passes first test


ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita’s newly installed turf course was tested for the first time on Thursday when Curlin Rules worked a half-mile under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

The workout was the first time a horse had been exercised on the surface since it was installed in June. The previous course was replaced after showing signs of significant wear and tear.

The new course will be used for the first time in races when the Santa Anita autumn meeting opens on Sept. 30. Santa Anita will host the Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 4-5.

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Get handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, special reports, and charts. Unlock access with DRF Plus.

Curlin Rules, trained by John Sadler, worked on the rail and was timed in 48.80 seconds. Smith did not urge Curlin Rules during the workout and said the 3-year-old colt had good traction throughout. Curlin Rules did not produce significant divots.

“It’s good,” Smith said. “The turns are good. We always had a slipping problem on the turn.

“For him, he was really good. I wasn’t trying to do more than a two-minute lick.”

Smith said the course should be in better shape with favorable growing conditions in the final weeks of September.

“They’ve got two more weeks to water it and let it grow,” Smith said. “Two weeks will make a big difference.”

The workout was witnessed by several California Horse Racing Board executives, including chairman Chuck Winner and executive director Rick Baedeker. Santa Anita has spent more than $500,000 to replace the course, according to track senior vice president Joe Morris.

The hillside portion of the course was replaced in early June, while the main oval was replaced later in June.

“The hillside is two weeks ahead of this, and you can see the difference,” Morris said, motioning to the main oval.

During the autumn meeting, the track will have four rail settings – the permanent rail and temporary rails set 10, 20, or 30 feet out from the inside to give runners the freshest ground possible.