ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 7, 2010)—Santa Anita Park, which had been closed to training since this past July, unveiled its all-new, natural dirt surface Monday morning as several hundred Thoroughbreds went through their early morning paces in advance of Santa Anita’s winter/spring opener on Dec. 26.

Santa Anita’s main track had been comprised of synthetic material from September of 2007 through Oct. 11, when construction began on the new surface.

“We’re very happy with how the project went and with how the horses seemed to handle the surface the past two mornings,” said Project Manager Ted Malloy. “I’m really happy with the mixture of the soil we have in place and I think the horsemen are as well.

“I think every facet of the project went according to plan and the result is we’ve got a good, kind, consistent surface that horses are going to be able to get a hold of and run well on. We’ll keep a close eye on everything and if the past two mornings are any indication, we’re in very good shape.”

Despite the fact Santa Anita was hit with three quarters of an inch of rain overnight Sunday and into Monday morning, the main track drained well and was open to training on Monday, with horses galloping and jogging approximately 20 feet off of the inside rail.

“We put the (orange) cones up because we had a couple areas where some water had eroded some material in the gaps to the turf course,” said Malloy. “It was an easy fix and we had the entire racetrack opened up for everyone this morning,” said Malloy from Clocker’s Corner on Tuesday.

A wide variety of trainers had horses out on the main track on Monday and Tuesday, including Jim Cassidy, who currently has 32 horses stabled at Santa Anita.

“We’ve had about 60 out the last two mornings,” said Cassidy. “The track’s fabulous. It’s very tight, soft and kind. They seem to glide over it.”

Cassidy was asked what kind of feedback he’s getting from his exercise riders.

“They say it’s really like a glide. It’s real spongy with no issues whatsoever and it’s got a fair amount of kickback.”

Although there have been no recorded workouts as of yet over the new surface, Cassidy indicated he has his stop watch at the ready.

“I’m going to need to breeze something in the next two days. I’m leaning to Thursday or Friday. I think right now, everyone is just taking their time and getting a feel for the new surface.”

Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner, located at the top of the homestretch, is open, free of charge, to the public on a daily basis from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Coffee, tea and a full breakfast menu are available.

First post time on opening day is 12 noon. For advance ticket sales and reservations, fans are encouraged to visit Food Truck Festival. For more information on opening day and upcoming racing action, go to --30--