02/06/2010 12:00AM

Stakes-rich Santa Anita card washed away


ARCADIA, Calif.- Santa Anita was forced to cancel a lucrative 10-race program on Saturday after the Pro-Ride brand synthetic track failed to drain sufficiently following 3 1/2 inches of rain in a 24-hour period from early Friday into Saturday.

The track announced midday Saturday that the five canceled stakes will be run rescheduled from Thursday through Saturday. The three graded stakes - the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-olds fillies, the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds, and the Grade 2 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds will be run on Saturday.

The two overnight turf stakes scheduled for Saturday - the $65,000 Leroidesanimaux Stakes over a mile and the $60,000 Wishing Well Handicap for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course - will be run on Thursday and Friday.

The timing of the rescheduled races is vital since they are preps for more lucrative races in coming weeks. The Strub, for example, is a prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, while the Leroidesanimaux Stakes is a prep for the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on March 6.

The track's racing department went forward on Saturday morning with entries for Wednesday's program.

The cancellation of Saturday's program is the fourth time at this meeting that racing has been lost because of extensive rain and insufficient drainage on the main track. The programs of Jan. 18 and 21-22 were lost when more than seven inches of rain fell in a five-day period.

Rain began to fall early Friday morning but did not prevent an eight-race program from being run after Santa Anita's track superintendent, Richard Tedesco, and his crew were able to aerate the synthetic surface in an effort to improve drainage.

After racing ended on Friday, and until dawn on Saturday, Southern California was hit with a significant rainstorm that Tedesco said left Santa Anita's rain gauge at 3 1/2 inches and climbing.

"It was 3.5 inches when the last storm went through," Tedesco said Saturday morning. "We've got standing water everywhere [on the racetrack]."

Tedesco said the most severe rain hit Santa Anita in the hours before dawn on Saturday. "When I got in here at 2 a.m., it was raceable," he said. "Since then, we've been pounded."

Santa Anita lost 11 days of racing during the 2007-08 meeting because of insufficient drainage on a Cushion Track synthetic surface. In the summer of 2008, the track replaced the Cushion Track material with Pro-Ride material.

No racing days were lost during the 2008-09 meeting, but problems have resurfaced this season, when rainfall totals have been higher than normal for the region.

The cancellation of Saturday's program was a blow to the track's bottom line. The 10-race program was one of the better cards of racing from a quality standpoint since the meeting began on Dec. 26.