Santa Anita plans to resume live racing March 22

POSTED ON  |  11-03-2019

Santa Anita Racing
Live racing is scheduled to return to Santa Anita March 22, The Stronach Group officials told Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse Sunday, if all goes well with the main track under the microscope. Bill Finley of Thoroughbred Daily News had reported the March 22 target date on Saturday. Update: Later Sunday, The Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo issued a statement without specifying a date to resume, emphasizing that the main track “will remain closed for live racing until outside experts let us know that it is safe to resume racing.” His full statement is posted at the bottom.

The Arcadia, California, track called off racing and training after the 21st equine fatality of the meet on March 5, pending further testing and evaluation of the surface. The inner training track, which had not been involved in any of the catastrophic injuries, was also examined. As a result of the closure, the meet lost its marquee March 9 card, highlighted by the Santa Anita H. (G1). The Big ‘Cap will be transferred to April 6, already a big day featuring the Santa Anita Derby (G1). But the San Felipe (G2), the final prep for the Santa Anita Derby, could not be restored in sufficient time. The March 9 renewal was to have served up an epic clash of Bob Baffert’s unbeaten Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls, champion Game Winner and Improbable, who will now ship to Oaklawn Park for the March 16 Rebel (G2). With training at Santa Anita also halted, Baffert and several other trainers sent their stable stars to Los Alamitos, where Game Winner and Improbable worked Sunday.

Two other stakes initially set for March 9, the San Carlos (G2) and Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), will now be held on March 23 and March 30, respectively. The Beholder (G1) is pushed from March 16 to March 23, while the San Simeon (G3) is penciled in for March 22. The Irish O’Brien shifts two weeks after St Patrick’s Day to March 31. This weekend’s Santa Ysabel (G3) and China Doll, however, will join the San Felipe on hiatus this year.  Although not yet reflected on the Santa Anita website, the April 20 Californian (G2) will be canceled as well according to DRF and Blood-Horse, coming just two weeks after the repositioned Big ‘Cap.

Santa Anita’s training track re-opened for light exercise on March 8, and the main oval will follow suit Monday at 5 a.m. (PDT). Likewise restricted to joggers and gallopers, training hours on the main track will still include the three regular renovation breaks from 6-6:30 a.m., 7:15-7:45 a.m., and 8:30-9 a.m. Track officials forecast that timed works would be allowed on the main oval “in the coming days,” according to a Saturday press release.
  • “Over the past four days, we’ve been able to do a great deal in terms of amending the soil and inspecting it,” veteran trackman Dennis Moore said in the release.
Moore was brought back in a consulting role to oversee track maintenance personnel and third-party experts, among them California Horse Racing Board representatives. In addition to thorough visual inspections, Moore is performing analysis on soil samples and test data generated by Dr. Mick Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Program and professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

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