Del Mar, the last race track in Southern California with a synthetic surface, plans to switch back to a dirt surface in the summer of 2015, track President Joe Harper said Wednesday.
The only remaining synthetic track in the state will be Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.
Santa Anita switched back to dirt in 2010. Hollywood Park has closed and Los Alamitos and Fairplex have dirt surfaces, so Del Mar was the only remaining track with a synthetic surface in Southern California.
The California Horse Racing Board had mandated in 2006 all the main thoroughbred tracks install a synthetic surface by the end of 2007 in an attempt to improve safety.
But horsemen complained about the synthetic surfaces, and problems arose involving maintenance that were never resolved.
"Let's just call it a grand experiment," said Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the CHRB. "I don't think it was worth $40 million, but what positive has come from this is we understand more about racing surfaces today than ever before. I still consider synthetics promising. They were a novel technology and weren't ready for the heavy use we get in U.S. racing surfaces."