February 22, 2024

Santa Anita main track re-opens for light training: ‘Everything went well’

Santa Anita scenic (Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com)

Veteran trackman Dennis Moore was pleased with the Santa Anita main track as light training resumed on the oval Monday morning. Shuttered March 5 following the 21st equine death this winter, the track has been subject to extensive testing and conditioning in the interim.

“Everything went well this morning,” Moore said in a press release. “The main track is good. All of the test data support what we experienced this morning and that is, it’s where it should be.”

Horses were confined to jogging and galloping on the main oval during the 5-10 a.m. (PDT) training hours, punctuated by the usual trio of renovation breaks. While timed works won’t be allowed on the one-mile circuit until “the next day or two,” according to the release, the six-furlong training track was back in business for more strenuous drills.

The training track, which had been closed along with the main March 5, reopened for light exercise March 8. Monday marked the first opportunity for the locally-based to record works in six days, and 133 horses took advantage.

Monday also ushered in Santa Anita’s new safety and welfare protocols for training, including the requirement that trainers get permission 24 hours in advance of working horses, and that track veterinarians observe all horses’ comings and goings to and from the track.

Trainer Vladimir Cerin was happy with both surfaces on Monday.

“I worked six horses on the training track and it’s great,” Cerin told Santa Anita publicity.

“I’ve had 10 horses out on the main track and it really couldn’t be any better. It’s so kind, you can’t hear the horses going by and all of my riders say they’re (the horses) getting a good hold of the surface. We could work horses on it right now, no question.”

Reports published over the weekend pinpointed March 22 as the date that officials plan to resume live racing, comporting with the revised stakes schedule posted on Santa Anita’s website. Tim Ritvo, COO of the track’s parent company, The Stronach Group, issued a further statement Sunday evening with no date mentioned and leaving that determination to the experts.

Monday’s press release reiterated that point, again with no reference to a specific date:

“While a return to live racing is expected in the near future, Moore and track officials will continue to evaluate the main track during and following morning training before any official decision with regard to a return to racing is made.”