Rain closes Santa Anita for first time in 58 years

January 18, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

ARCADIA, Calif. -- By the time Corey Nakatani rode Southern Truce to a six-length victory in yesterday's San Gorgonio Handicap, horse racing at rainy Santa Anita had become a little too much like white-water rafting to be considered safe.

A cloudburst around 4 p.m. caused parts of the running surface to "wash out," as jockey Chris McCarron put it, creating "deep ruts or full streams across the track."

So the jockeys took a vote and, in a first for the 58-year-old track, forced the cancellation of the ninth race because of unsure footing.

Santa Anita sent 10,345 fans at the track and 13,501 more at the satellites home early, and sent parimutuel officials to the rule book before they could calculate pick-six and pick-nine payouts.

Nearly $400,000 in bets on eight claiming horses in the ninth race were refunded.

Santa Anita president Cliff Goodrich said track superintendent Steve Wood was confident today's card could be held as scheduled, with six races run at Santa Anita and five at Bay Meadows in an unprecedented cross-simulcasting arrangement prompted by a shortage of fit horses.

Goodrich said he quickly agreed to the jockeys' request to cancel the last race.

"We can't risk lives," Goodrich said.

Tom Ward, one of the three stewards with whom the final decision rested, said the jockeys essentially made the call.

"If you've got riders who don't want to be out there, the public isn't going to be served," Ward said.

McCarron said the five who rode in the eighth race, the San Gorgonio, "unanimously said the track had become very dangerous."

"With the torrent we just got, they made the washouts deeper and wider, and there was no way of avoiding them," McCarron said. "With the water filling the washouts, there was no telling how deep they were. With that chance of a horse misstepping, you stand a chance of somebody getting a horse hurt."

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