Santa Anita Might Shorten Race Cards

ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 23, 2017) – Santa Anita has requested the option to run seven-race programs at its discretion on weekdays during a 102-day meeting from Dec. 26 to June 24, 2018, according to documents filed with the California Horse Racing Board.

The track’s operating license application for the season is scheduled for a hearing at the racing board’s monthly meeting Thursday at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita’s license application states the track will run seven to nine races on weekdays and nine to 12 on most weekends, holidays, and on opening day. There also is a request to run from nine to 14 races on major racing days coinciding with high-profile events such as the Santa Anita Handicap, Santa Anita Derby, or Triple Crown. Earlier this year, the track ran 11 races on those days.

Similar clauses were requested for the 2016-17 meeting. Typically, Santa Anita runs eight races on weekdays and nine or 10 on most weekend days.

The issue of the number of races run each day, and field sizes, has become of greater concern in recent months. In April and June, the track canceled four days of racing because of insufficient entries. There have been no such cancellations at the current autumn meeting, which began Sept. 29 and ends Sunday.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, the track’s parent company, said Sunday that the goal is for a greater number of races than in past seasons, but that field-size issues remain a concern.

“We’d like to have the flexibility and the option,” Ritvo said. “You need to prepare a little more carefully if you run into a situation when you don’t have enough horses.”

Ritvo said stall allotments for the winter meeting could change for some stables, based on the level of support trainers have provided.

“Numbers are based on who are the right people that will run horses [and] cutting down those that aren’t running and introducing new guys,” Ritvo said.

For most of the 2018 meeting, Santa Anita will have four-day racing weeks. There are two three-day weeks on a Friday-through-Sunday basis scheduled for the second and third weeks of April after the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.