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vironica
01-24-2008, 11:08 AM
By Art Wilson
ARCADIA - Having already been forced to cancel an unprecedented three consecutive days of racing earlier this month, Santa Anita could be looking at more cancelations beginning today as heavy rains moved into the Southland on Wednesday.

The wet weather comes at a time when Santa Anita is preparing to co-host Saturday's sixth annual Sunshine Millions, a series of eightraces worth $3.6 million held simultaneously at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park in Florida and has evolved into one of the biggest days of the winter-spring meet for the Arcadia racetrack.

The status of today's eight-race card will be determined this morning when Santa Anita officials and horsemen inspect the new Cushion Track, which was installed at a cost of more than $10 million in August but has failed to drain properly since a small amount of rain in late September.

Santa Anita president Ron Charles said the main track was sealed following Wednesday morning's workouts in preparation for the rain.

"I know they're expecting a heavy rain, and we'll pretty much look at it (today) and see how it weathered the storm," he said.

Charles said track officials spoke numerous times Wednesday with horsemen about the status of the Sunshine Millions, which drew a crowd of 36,355 last year and 32,116 in 2006.

Only the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap and the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby have drawn bigger crowds the past couple of years.

"We want the industry to know exactly what's happening and what our options are, and we'll take a real good look at it (today) and see where we are," Charles said.

Also, materials to repair the Cushion Track are scheduled to arrive Sunday in time to begin maintenance that night, a process that management expects will take four days and force a cancelation of two additional racing days Monday and Thursday.

"If we can fit that in, with the weather, it's certainly a calendar we're looking at," Charles said.

The current track will be reformulated with polymer and fibers produced by Pro-Ride, a synthetic-surface company based in Australia. The company's liquid-type polymer is expected to bond the silt that is causing the drainage problem and enable the water to run down to the base.

"Unfortunately, we're just at the mercy of this weather," Charles said. "The first opportunity that we get to install (materials), we will.

"I mean, there's been some suggestions to try to just weather out this meet with the existing racing surface, and I think this is a good example of why we can't do it. We need to fix this racetrack, we need to make it a racetrack that will tolerate rain and be kinder and safer on the horses, and we need to do it as soon as possible."