[20080516 (LA/D14,OC/D16) — SCRUTINY: Santa Anita’s surface will be watched closely because the track is playing host to the next two Breeders’ Cups. — PHOTOGRAPHER: Al Seib  Los Angeles Times] *** [Seib, Al — – 127850.SP.0904.horse.ALS ARCADIA, CA. Santa Anita is having the first workouts on its new Cushion Track synthetic surface this morning. Horses began working out on the track starting at 4:45 a.m. becoming the first horses to set foot on Santa Anita’s all-new Cushion Track surface. Installed at a cost of more than $10 million, Cushion Track replaces Santa Anita’s traditional dirt main track and is composed of silica sand mixed with synthetic fibers, elastic fiber and shredded rubber. The material is coated with a blend of wax. Closed since July 5, Santa Anita’s main track reopened for training today. Due to safety concerns, Santa Anita, which opened in December of 1934, was mandated along with Hollywood Park and Del Mar to convert to a synthetic surface by the California Horse Racing Board. “We’re excited, this is an historic date,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “There’s no question this is a safer surface. I think it’s a more consistent surface and hopefully it’s a fairer surface. And I think it’s something you’re going to see more and more race tracks go to, simply on the basis that we need to keep our horses safer and sounder,” he added.]

Santa Anita leads California in horse racing deaths ...

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