02/22/2012 4:51PM

Santa Anita won’t add Wednesday cards


Santa Anita has received permission from the California Horse Racing Board to eliminate seven days of racing on Wednesdays in March and April from the current meeting, track officials said.

The track is currently running four days a week – from Thursdays through Sundays – and originally planned to expand to a five-day racing week beginning the week of March 7.

In a letter sent to racing board chairman Keith Brackpool on Monday, Santa Anita requested to stay with a four-day format through the end of the meeting on April 22. Brackpool approved the request.

In the letter, track president George Haines said that maintaining a higher number of average runners per race compared to last year was a leading factor. Through Monday, races have averaged 8.25 starters since the Dec. 26 opening-day program. Through a comparable period in 2011, fields averaged 7.75 starters. The entire 2011 meeting averaged 7.63 runners.

In 2011, Santa Anita was scheduled to run on Wednesdays in March and April, but ran only one, canceling the rest because of concern over a lack of available horses. The horse population has stabilized in the last year, but has not shown sufficient growth to add a day of racing per week. The population between Hollywood Park and Santa Anita is approximately 2,900 horses.

In his letter to Brackpool, Haines said that handle at Santa Anita has increased 7 percent over the 2010-11 meeting.