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Drainage problems reappear

May 29, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The surprise rainstorm that hit the San Gabriel Valley last week brought the problem of Santa Anita's synthetic track drainage problems to the surface once again, as the storm left small pools of water on the track.

Ian Pearse, the Australian synthetic track expert who has been working with Santa Anita, is recommending that the track's asphalt base be replaced. He said that would be done after first grading away seven inches of sand, synthetics, rubber and polymer binder that make up the surface. He estimates the project would take two to three weeks.

"We might do different sections of the track at different times, but I'd prefer removing the entire surface, then replacing the entire base," Pearse said. He also said that the surface, which he repaired earlier this year, needs more work.

Santa Anita President Ron Charles said this latest repair project still has to be approved by Frank Stronach, chairman of Magna Entertainment, Santa Anita's parent company. And Charles said that the work would probably not begin until after the end of the current Hollywood Park meeting on July 13 because many of the horses that race there train at Santa Anita.

The synthetic track was installed last summer at a cost of nearly $11 million by Cushion Track, a competitor of Pearse's company, Pro-Ride Racing. Charles said he did not know yet how much the new base and the additional repairs to the surface would cost.

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Nashoba's Key, one of Southern California's most popular horses last year, was euthanized Wednesday after suffering a severe leg injury in a pen outside her stall at Hollywood Park. The 5-year-old mare, undefeated in seven races before finishing fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, shattered a hind leg when she kicked the side of her pen. Nashoba's Key, trained by Carla Gaines, was known for her feisty demeanor, and that apparently was her undoing. The daughter of Silver Hawk had won eight of 10 races and earned $1,252,090.

Alyce Williamson, the wife of owner-breeder Warren Williamson of Pasadena, said, "We are devastated. We love all our horses, but this one has given us so much joy."

Her son Henry Williamson, in an e-mail, referred to Nashoba's Key as a "family member."

Times Staff Writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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