After two days of work, Santa Anita says it's one mile main track, which was closed to training Tuesday and Wednesday, has been deemed “one hundred percent ready,” by Mick Peterson, PhD. Peterson is with the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs, and he evaluates soil samples from Santa Anita on a monthly basis as well as being on-site this week.
Peterson and Santa Anita Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco examined soil samples and performed an examination of the track’s cushion, pad and base, Peterson employed ground-penetrating radar to check for uniform consistency in the one mile oval.
“The ground penetrating radar verified all of the materials, silt, clay and sand, as well as moisture content, are consistent everywhere on this track,” said Peterson on Wednesday afternoon. “This testing ensures all components, the five-inch cushion, pad and base, are consistent and in good order.
“Andy has inspected the entire oval and has made sure that by pulling the soil off and reapplying it, this surface is in fact one hundred percent consistent and ready for training and racing.”
Peterson was also quick to note that physical soundness is a seven-day-a-week, 24 hour-a-day challenge which involves a myriad of issues, not just a consistent surface.
“All of the testing and research we’ve done, worldwide, clearly indicates soundness is multi-factorial,” said Peterson. “We must approach this challenge with the knowledge that this is always a process, and we need to always strive to get better, and that no matter how good the results may be, we must get better.
“If there are issues, they’re going to be addressed. The safety of the horses, jockeys and exercise people is our number one priority and always will be.”
Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer of track owner The Stronach Group, said, “At the Stronach Group, we consider the safety and security of the athletes, both equine and human, who race at our facilities, to be our top priority. All industry stakeholders, including our company, must be held accountable for the safety and security of the horses and we are committed to doing just that.”
Santa Anita’s main track opened for training Thursday morning at 5:00. and was scheduled to remain open for five hours, including renovation breaks. The inner training track, which is approximately three quarters of a mile in circumference, opened at 4:45 and closes at the same time as the main track.
The San Felipe Stakes, the next stepping-stone on the California Road to the Kentucky Derby, is set for Saturday, March 9.