ARCADIA, Calif. — In a move that will ensure the most expansive turf racing program in the Western U. S., Santa Anita Park is in the process of adding a brand new turf course chute, which will enable the track to offer fans and horsemen a wide array of turf sprints that heretofore had not been available.
Under the direction of track consultant Dennis Moore, the new chute, which will run parallel to the seven furlong main track chute, will cross the dirt oval and join up with the turf oval at approximately the five furlong pole and be available for usage beginning opening day of Santa Anita’s traditional Winter/Spring Meeting on Dec. 26.
The new turf chute, which is 80 feet wide and approximately 800 feet long, will comfortably accommodate sprint races at distances of 6 ½, six, 5 ½ and five furlongs on “the flat,” while Santa Anita’s traditional Camino Real Hillside Course will continue to be available to horses running distances of a mile and a quarter and up.
“Turf racing has always been popular and it’s even more so now,” said Santa Anita’s Aidan Butler, who serves as Executive Director of California Racing Operations for The Stronach Group. “This new turf chute gives our Racing Office great deal more programmability. By that I mean that we’ll have significantly more options and the turf will now be more available to horses of various classifications.
“Safety is of course our absolute top priority and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of this project. We’re confident this is going to be well received by everyone, including our fans, who’ve grown to love the spectacle of watching horses run over the Santa Anita turf—there’s nothing like it in North American racing. ”
With good turf racing a huge priority, Santa Anita will now be in a position to offer a greater variety of turf events than ever before and it is expected these new turf sprints will provide players with consistently large fields and enticing gambling opportunities while enabling Moore’s maintenance crews to better maintain the condition of the turf.
“With a longer, truer run into the far turn, horses tend to sort themselves out and you don’t have so much wear and tear on the course as you do with a shorter run,” said Moore. “We got to work on this project on Aug. 17 and it’s going very well. We’re going to have a very smooth transition for horses running six and 6 ½ furlongs when they cross the main track. First of all, it’s early in the race and they’ll be running in a straight line. We’re in the process of bringing in enough fill (dirt) to elevate the chute and get it pretty much on the same level as the main track crossing. ”
Moore also noted that the new chute will be comprised of the same Bandera Bermuda hybrid turf that’s currently utilized on the turf oval and hillside.
With the exception of a slight alteration to the outside rail which enabled the track to begin running five furlong turf sprints in September, 2018, this turf chute project represents the first significant alteration to Santa Anita’s world famous Camino Real Course, which was unveiled on Dec. 26, 1953.
Live racing will return to Santa Anita on Saturday, September 19, opening day of the track’s 18-day Autumn Meeting.
For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Photo: Santa Anita