Rain forecast delays Santa Anita's opener, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Rain forecast delays Santa Anita's opener

Santa Anita is postponing the opening day of its winter-spring meet by two days to Dec 28, ahead of this week's forecast for rain.

It will be the first time since 1973-74 that the meet doesn't open on its traditional date of Dec 26. Santa Anita last opened on Dec 28 in 1971.

A total of 37 horses have died at Santa Anita since last December, triggering intense scrutiny of the track and horse safety in the sport.

Aidan Butler, acting executive director of California operations for track owner The Stronach Group, said Santa Anita's commitment to safety for the horsemen, fans and employees takes priority.

The California Horse Racing Board supported Santa Anita's decision.

"We on the board indicated our concern for safety when we provided Santa Anita 12 flex days in its upcoming meet," said CHRB chairman, Greg Ferraro.

"Those dark days will be determined by weather and safety conditions as the meet progresses. We are encouraged that Santa Anita, by cancelling its first two days of racing, is placing the safety of horses and riders first."

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said track officials are doing the right thing by pushing back the races. - AP