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Trainers back application of wax
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hollywood Park's announcement Thursday that wax will be added to the top layer of the synthetic main track was greeted with support Friday by several trainers, some of whom questioned why the issue was not addressed earlier.
Citing the results of recent tests that revealed a breakdown in wax content, Hollywood Park will add wax in July, according to track general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. The date of the application has not been finalized.
The material is scheduled to arrive next weekend, Wyatt said. The spring-summer meeting ends July 15.
"It will definitely be no later than the day after the meeting is over and maybe as early as July 9," Wyatt said.
Trainers say they have seen a rash of back injuries, and some believe they are the result of horses having trouble gaining hind-end traction while exercising or racing.
"We've asked for rewaxing for six weeks," said Howard Zucker, chairman of the California Thoroughbred Trainers racetrack committee. "It's a little late for horses that were injured."
Zucker was quick to point out that Hollywood Park's Cushion Track brand synthetic surface has been heavily used since it was installed last September. The barn area has been at capacity since the spring-summer meeting began in April and the course was popular as an off-track training location during the Santa Anita winter meeting.
"It's gotten more use in eight months than any other synthetic track in history," Zucker said.
For a change, trainers are not placing the blame on the track superintendent, in this case Dennis Moore, who did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Trainer Jeff Mullins, a vocal critic of racing surfaces in the past, has been based here since September. He said Moore "is doing a good job of working with what he has."
"It probably needed wax a while ago," he said. "It's better than what we had."
Mullins said he has a few horses with sore backs.
"If we have problems, that's what they've had," he said. "We've done pretty well."
Trainer John Sadler said his stable has not been plagued by injuries, but said he noticed changes in the surface in recent weeks. Sadler called the synthetic surface "a big improvement" over the old conventional surface.
"It looks like it's a maintenance issue," he said. "I don't want to knock the surface."
Cushion Track material consists of silica sand mixed with synthetic fibers, elastic fibers, and granulated rubber. The material is coated with a blend of wax.
Cushion Track is manufactured by Equestrian Surfaces of Burnley, England, which recently won the contract to install a similar surface at Santa Anita. Installation of that surface will take place in July and August.
Wyatt said there is no clear reason as to why the top layer of the Hollywood Park course contains less wax. One factor could be warmer weather during recent weeks.
"It's different depending on the temperature, and the people that sell you this will tell you that," Wyatt said. "There are some theories that wax is being taken off by vehicles or horses, but that's just speculation.
"I think the course has stood up pretty good. There is going to be a learning curve for everyone who puts it in. They'll all be a little different."
Zucker said he is hopeful the problem will be solved next month. Hollywood Park will stay open as a training center this summer during the Del Mar meeting.
"We argued for the last two months that something has changed," he said. "Everyone was so pleased with the racetrack that we got spoiled. We want to stay spoiled and we want our horses to be spoiled."
Molengao set for Hollywood Gold Cup
Molengao, winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 5, was pronounced "ready" for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup next Saturday by trainer Paulo Lobo after a six-furlong workout Friday.
Molengao worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 in company with a stablemate. Molengao started two lengths behind his stablemate, drew alongside in early stretch, and finished a length in front, galloping out well.
Lobo timed Molengao in 12 seconds for the final furlong, and was not concerned that the 6-year-old did not produce a flashy time.
"He always works an average time," he said.
Owned by Stud TNT, Molengao will be the second choice in the Gold Cup, which is run over 1 1/4 miles. The race is led by Lava Man, the two-time defending champion. Other probable starters are A.P. Arrow, A.P. Xcellent, Big Booster, My Creed, and Wilko.
Lava Man and Molengao finished first and second in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.
Stakes dropper tops maiden race
B R's Girl, fifth in the Cinderella Stakes in her career debut May 27, heads a field that includes seven first-time starters in a $46,000 maiden special weight race for 2-year-old fillies over five furlongs, carded as Sunday's fourth race.
Trained by Sadler for Edmund Gann, B R's Girl has drawn the rail. In the Cinderella, she raced wide and finished 5 1/2 lengths behind the impressive winner Wonderful Luck.
The first-time starters include homebreds Electric Daze and Weekend Connection and the expensive 2-year-old sale purchases County Storm and Under Serviced.
Electric Daze, a Gilded Time filly trained by Doug O'Neill for Paul Reddam, had a five-furlong workout in 58.20 seconds here June 10.
"She can run," O'Neill said. "When she works, she looks like she's going in 1:01 or 1:02 and you look at your watch and think, holy mackerel."
Weekend Connection has worked quickly from the gate on two occasions since late May. A Pulpit filly, she is trained by Richard Mandella for Alain and Gerard Wertheimer.
Trainer Bob Baffert starts Under Serviced, who was purchased for $325,000 at the Ocala Breeders' sale in February. She has worked quickly at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.
Trainer Christopher Paasch has entered County Storm, who was purchased for $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale earlier this year and races for Charlie Cono.
"She's a decent filly," Paasch said. "I think she'll run real well."
County Storm has not worked quickly this month, which is not a concern to Paasch.
"I don't work horses really, really fast," he said.