Update on Santa Anita Park Nightmare: Track Cancelled Indefinitely

Arcadia, CA – March 5, 2019 – The Stronach Group announced the closure of Santa Anita Park for live racing and training effective immediately while the one-mile main track undergoes additional extensive testing.

All stakes races scheduled for this upcoming weekend, including the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade II San Felipe and the Grade II San Carlos will be rescheduled.

“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, The Stronach Group. “While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.”

The Stronach Group has been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and numerous key industry stakeholders who are in full agreement with the decision to suspend racing and training.

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The additional testing of the track will be lead by veteran Trackman Dennis Moore, expanding on the ground radar testing conducted earlier this week by the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mick Peterson. Measures will include utilizing an Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop allowing engineers to see how the track holds up. These test results will be evaluated to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing.

Further, The Stronach Group will be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.

ABOUT THE STRONACH GROUP
The Stronach Group is North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, home of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.

Boom Time for California Horse Racing

Santa Anita Park’s 2018-19 Winter Meeting got off to a record-breaking start on Wednesday, as the track posted an all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $20,491,016, a 19 percent increase over a year ago and an all-time opening day record.

Wednesday’s opening day crowd of 41,373 contributed to an on-track handle of $3,463,535, a five percent increase over last year’s $3.3 million. On-track attendance was up year to year three percent.

In measuring the significance of Wednesday’s numbers, the last time Santa Anita opened on a Wednesday was 2012, when all-sources handle was $13.4 million, making yesterday’s handle of $20.4 million a whopping 52 percent increase. On track attendance on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 was 27,273, making yesterday’s 41,373 a 52 percent increase.

Winter Meet at Santa Anita Park to See Purse Increases

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With its traditional Winter Meet opener fast approaching on Wednesday, Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park has announced substantial purse increases for all of its overnight races, with some categories getting as much as an 11 percent boost when compared to purse levels at the track’s recently concluded Autumn Meet.

Santa Anita’s Winter Meet Condition Book One will be available to horsemen at santaanita.com on Tuesday, with hard copies available in the Racing Office this Wednesday, Dec. 5.

In addition to higher purses, horsemen will also find increased benefits for those running in races with purse levels of $30,000 or lower, as purse distribution in those races has been adjusted to better compensate horses that finish fourth and fifth. Percentage of purse distribution in those races, from first through fifth, will now be 55, 20, 12, 8 and 5.

“The overall increase in purse money is due to increased handle over the last year,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President, Racing for The Stronach Group. “We’ve adjusted the purses for the mid-level races in order to try to increase participation and field size, which drives handle. With these and other changes in place, we’re looking forward to a great Winter Meet starting the day after Christmas.”

Other changes, designed to increase field size, come in the first condition allowance category. Instead of being restricted to horses who are non-winners of $10,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter, horses will now be eligible if they’ve won $15,000 “other than.”

This adjustment has been made to entice more European and out of state horses to participate. Additionally, for the first time ever, horses that win first condition allowance races at Golden Gate Fields will now be exempted and be eligible to run again at the same non-winner’s level at Santa Anita, which will hopefully serve as an incentive to Bay Area horsemen to ship south for substantially more money.

For additional information regarding Santa Anita’s 2018-19 Winter Meet, please visit santaanita.com, or contact Santa Anita Racing Director Dan Eidson at (626) 574-6352.

Source: Press Release