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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


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TWLIGHT METEOR has one of the highest last-race Beyer Figures in today’s SIR BEAUFORT STAKES at 1 mile on the grass for 3yos at Santa Anita.

The Smart Strike – One Over Prime, With Approval 3yo was 4th in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last time out and has been oh-so close at some big scores this year including a 2nd in the Breeders’ Stakes, Kent Breeders’ Cup and Hawthorne Derby.

Tough post for the guy – 13, but he’s poised to win a big one soon.

Undefeated DIVINE PARK, who is out of an ASCOT KNIGHT mare, High in the Park, is set for the Malibu Stakes, the opening day feature on the Santa Anita card.

The 3yo has not raced since April when he won the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

The colt ships in from Belmont for trainer Kiaran Mclaughlin where he has been working quickly.

It will be his second synthetic surface outing.

AT CALDER, Canadian-bred SILK CANDY, by Langfuhr-Astrapi is in a 6 furlong allowance race for Stronach Stables. The filly ran an 83 Beyer Figure in her latest win at Woodbine.

Report from Santa Anita

From the Press-Enterprise

Special to The Press-Enterprise

“We'll keep running tests, but we may have no other choice but to treat it like the old dirt and then tear it out when the meet ends." – Santa Anita management

ARCADIA - The management at Santa Anita received an early Christmas present this past weekend when 92 thoroughbreds worked between three and six furlongs on a refurbished Cushion Track surface.

They were the first horses allowed to work on Cushion Track since Dec. 4, when Santa Anita shut it down because the surface, installed at a cost of nearly $11 million this past summer, didn't drain properly.

Santa Anita's winter-spring meet opens Wednesday and runs through April 20. Track president Ron Charles said he believes Saturday's sunny weather, which is expected to last through the end of the week, may be only a temporary reprieve from its drainage problems.

"We don't know what will happen when it rains again," Charles said. "And it will. We get more rain at our winter meet than any other track in Southern California.

"We first discovered the problem before the Oak Tree meet in the fall, and we're still looking for answers. The 1½ inches of rain (Dec. 11-13) really threw us for a loop. It's getting better, but we're still not satisfied."

The Cushion Track at Santa Anita, made up of silica sand, synthetic fibers, granulated rubber and wax, is similar to the one Hollywood Park unveiled in the fall of 2006. No drainage problems have been reported there.

"But the one the manufacturer put in here had too much fine sand, and the water wouldn't penetrate to the bottom like it was supposed to," Charles said.

Crews of Santa Anita and Cushion Track workmen worked around the clock recently to get the track in order, including the addition of more coarse sand.

"There was never any question we would make opening day," Charles said. "But we're still concerned about the way Cushion Track has handled the situation."

Paul Harper and Philip Bond, officials of Cushion Track, manufactured in England by Equestrian Footing, were at Santa Anita recently but declined to comment on the drainage dispute.

But Richard Shapiro, the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, said he got into a heated argument with Bond two weeks ago at a racing industry symposium in Tucson, Ariz.

"I asked him why his company wasn't at Santa Anita fixing the problem there," said Shapiro, who was the strongest proponent of artificial surfaces when the racing board mandated last year that they be installed at all five of the state's major thoroughbred tracks by next year.

California is the only state where artificial surfaces are required, though Bay Meadows in San Mateo, which is rumored to be closing by the end of next year, has been granted an exemption.

"I've received criticism for making synthetic surfaces a requirement," Shapiro said. "But I won't apologize for taking an aggressive stand in favor of horse safety. Despite the problems at Santa Anita, we're seeing the loss of fewer horses to catastrophic injuries and an increase in field sizes and betting handle. No track is going to be 100 percent free of horse breakdowns, but we have safer tracks now."

Santa Anita's Charles said if the track's drainage problems continue, the Cushion Track will be treated like a conventional dirt surface throughout its meet.

"That means we'll have to seal the track, run heavy rollers over it when it rains to get rid of the water," he said. "That makes the track harder than usual, something we wanted to avoid. We'll keep running tests, but we may have no other choice but to treat it like the old dirt and then tear it out when the meet ends."

Jack Carava, like many of the trainers based at Santa Anita year-round, has worked his horses on the six-furlong infield track that is made of conventional dirt.

"They got fit, but I probably won't race as many as I normally would, especially in the early part of the meet," Carava said. "They didn't work well enough to warrant racing them."

Trainer Dan Hendricks said his young horses and others who haven't yet raced may have the most problems.

"If they've been racing at Hollywood Park, I see no problems," Hendricks said. "They've kept their fitness and may even be sharper."

The 71st thoroughbred meet, which opens for an 85-day run, will be the only one contested on a Wednesday.

In a departure from tradition, Santa Anita will hold racing cards Thursdays through Mondays, except for the opening day and New Year's Day, which falls on a Tuesday.

From Associated Press

GREENFIELD, Ind.: Dale Baird, the winningest thoroughbred trainer with more than 9,400 victories, died in a crash along an icy highway when he lost control of his pickup truck while hauling a livestock trailer. He was 72.

He was killed Sunday in the accident on Interstate 70 along with two teenagers whose car broadsided the truck about 20 miles east of Indianapolis. James Pardo, 19, of Centerville, and Jared Graham, 18, of Hagerstown, were returning from the Indianapolis Colts-Houston Texans game.

Hancock County police say strong winds and a slick road most likely contributed to the crash, which happened after Baird's truck crossed a median and slid into oncoming traffic. Baird was heading to Martinsville, Ill., to spend Christmas with his mother and family, his ex-wife, Diane, said Tuesday. He then planned to go to Chicago for a paddock sale.

Wind may have been factor in crash that killed 3

Noelle M. Steele/Staff writer

Hancock County

Police can only speculate what might have caused a westbound driver on Interstate 70 to lose control of his sport utility vehicle and horse trailer Sunday afternoon.

Investigators believe strong winds might have contributed to what ended up being a five-vehicle crash that killed three people. Dale Baird, driver of the SUV that was hauling an empty horse trailer, crossed the median into eastbound traffic around 5 p.m., broadsiding a car driven by two teenagers. The crash killed cousins James Pardo, 19; and Jarad Graham, 18; and Baird instantly.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene, deputy coroner Dan Devoy said this morning.

The initial impact, which occurred near the 112-mile marker near the Hancock-Henry County line, triggered a domino effect, police said. A second impact occurred when a semi collided with the back of the teenagers’ car, crushing it, and a fourth car hit the back of the semi. None of the drivers or occupants of those cars was seriously injured. A fifth car also spun into the median to avoid the wreck.

Although Baird was killed instantly when he was thrown from the truck, his passenger survived. Friend Shelby Bartholomew was also hurtled from the truck, landing about 100 feet away from the wreckage, but was coherent when help arrived. She was able to provide little information to police, however, before she was flown by helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

“It happened so fast, and she was in such shock, that she did not understand exactly what was happening,” Devoy said.

Wreckage littered a quarter mile stretch of I-70, whose eastbound lanes between Greenfield and Knightstown were closed down for about six hours. Traffic was rerouted along Ind. 9 in Greenfield to U.S. 40.


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