11/06/2006 12:00AM

Track watered too heavily, trainers say


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After frequently watering its new synthetic surface on Friday and Saturday, Hollywood Park stopped watering the surface on Sunday in response to complaints from horsemen.

The track was watered several times on Saturday afternoon between races, and some trainers said that made the track too firm. The complaints continued during training on Sunday morning, when management announced it would stop watering the track.

Watering began late last week after track officials consulted with officials from Equestrian Surfaces of Burnley, England, which manufactured the surface. The synthetic surface, known as Cushion Track, was used for the first time for racing last Wednesday.

"The only thing we were doing differently was adding water," said general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. before the races on Sunday. "We had some horsemen that complained starting Friday and more so yesterday. We're not going to go with water."

The synthetic track was installed in September and used for training through the early fall, earning widespread praise from horsemen. The track material is a combination of silica sand mixed with synthetic fibers, elastic fiber, and granulated rubber. The material is coated with a blend of wax, and unlike conventional tracks does not require watering.

Wednesday, the track produced slow times. Horses that came from behind had an advantage. By the weekend, horses were winning on the lead and from off the pace.

"I thought the track was good until they started putting water on it," trainer Ben Cecil said on Sunday morning. "I've never seen so many people complaining about it. It seems firmer, and the horses are not as comfortable. It certainly changed on Friday and Saturday from what it was on Wednesday and Thursday."

One of the biggest proponents of the track has been leading trainer Jeff Mullins, who has been based at Hollywood Park since September. He was not happy with the condition of the surface on Sunday morning.

"It looks like a deer trail on the outside," Mullins said. "It's firm."

Other trainers expressed displeasure about the surface over the weekend, but some said they understood track officials were in a trial-and-error phase.

"Hopefully, they'll live and learn," trainer Mike Puype said. "There is a learning curve, anyway. This track has been the best thing to happen to racing."

The track produced quick times throughout the weekend. Saturday, Souvenir Evening, a 3-year-old maiden claimer, ran six furlongs in 1:08.63. Sunday, Romantic Rogue, a $12,500 claimer, ran six furlongs in 1:09.81, and the 2-year-old first-time starter Ididn'tdoanything ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.19. On Wednesday, it took third-level allowance horses 1:16.61 to cover 6 1/2 furlongs, and California-bred maiden special weight 3-year-old fillies went 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19.07.

Jockeys Aaron Gryder and Jose Valdivia Jr. said they were pleased with the surface on Sunday.

"It retains water, so maybe they don't need to water it as often," Gryder said. "It's in good shape."

Gryder estimated that he worked 80 horses on the surface from mid-September to early November. "I've seen more changes in the last two days since any period since Del Mar," he said. "Whatever way they keep it, it has to be consistent. It changed a lot from Wednesday. I'm sure it's a situation of trial and error."

Valdivia said on Sunday that the track "was not the freeway" that it was on Saturday. "It feels like it was the first couple of days," he said.

Wyatt said track officials would consult with horsemen, through the California Thoroughbred Trainers' track committee, on future maintenance changes.

"We'll try to get everyone in the loop," he said.

Migliore looking for new challenge

The migration of New York-based jockeys to Southern California continues this week with the arrival of veteran Richard Migliore. He joins a jockey roster that includes two other recent transplants from New York - Norberto Arroyo, who arrived during the summer, and Garrett Gomez, who returned to California after a six-month absence in late October.

While Gomez has a history of success in California and Arroyo has earned a place on the local circuit, Migliore will be banking on his reputation as a top rider for more than 20 years to help gain a foothold in California.

Migliore, 41, has won more than 4,000 races and more than $150 million in purses, but has never ridden a winner in California.

Migliore is making the change this winter for a change of pace, and is even entertaining staying, pending the results of the winter.

"I have no timeline on it," he said. "If things went well, I got a fair chance, got some support from the local horsemen, and I like the lifestyle, I could see myself staying and finishing my career.

"But I don't want to think too far ahead. I went to meet new people and introduce myself with a part of the racing world I've not had a chance to do business with. Hopefully, I can show them what my capabilities are."

Migliore will be represented by Ron Anderson, who is also Gomez's agent. Migliore has ridden winters in New York for most of his career, aside from a few winters in Florida. Last winter, he was sidelined by injury.

"I always had it in my head that I wanted to try it," he said of moving to California. "To me, it's another adventure, a whole new place and a whole new challenge."

Migliore was scheduled to arrive on Monday. He is not booked to ride on Wednesday at Hollywood Park, but is hoping to gain mounts for Thursday's program.

Roman Commander eyes two stakes

Roman Commander, the winner of the Real Quiet Stakes on Saturday, may start in two graded stakes at this meeting, trainer Gary Stute said.

Stute is considering the $100,000 Generous Stakes on Nov. 24, a Grade 3 at a mile on turf, and the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at 1o1/16 miles on the main track on Dec. 16.

"The races are all three weeks apart," Stute said.

Owned by Kendall Mann, Roman Commander won his second stakes in the Real Quiet. The colt won the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Park in September and was fifth in the Norfolk Breeders' Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last month.

Stute said that longer distances have helped Roman Commander, who lost four sprints from May to July. "I had to back off of him earlier this year and start over," he said. "It turned out to be the right thing to do."