The comments I'm reading from trainers at Santa Anita are the harshest I've yet to see regarding a synthetic racetrack; an incredible and sobering turn of events from the praise for the surface after last fall's Breeders' Cup. The horsemen teed off on Pro-Ride founder Ian Pearse during a meeting on Wednesday.
"Training on this track is like walking on a minefield," [Vladimir Cerin] said. "The question is, who will be next?
Said [Mel] Stute: "In the past 40 years, I've had 12 fatalities, and nine have come on these synthetic tracks. They've been a pain in the (rear)."
About 20 minutes into the meeting, Stute got up, mumbled, "I've heard enough of this (bleep)," and left.
[Henry] Moreno told the assembled group he thinks racing should go back to traditional dirt tracks.
"This is the worst I've ever seen in my 58 years in racing," he said. [SGVTribune.com]
[Darrell] Vienna said: “It was horrific. There were holes, it was uneven, and it was dangerous. They [synthetic surfaces] are no good.Pearse had little to say other than to cite the change in weather from the fall, and the fact that the US is the only country where there is training and racing on the same track on the same day and that adjustments need to be made. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, and it seems as if this situation is coming to a head right now. From the sound of it, I certainly wouldn't be shocked if this year's Breeders' Cup is run on dirt. Hopefully, whatever is done, a decision will be made in a timely manner so that owners and trainers can plan this year's campaigns accordingly, and not left guessing about the surface like they were last year.
“The promises at the beginning were they were safe, consistent, maintenance-free, and all-weather. They are not safe, they're not maintenance-free, they're not consistent, and they can't take water. None of it is true.”
Trainer Bruce Headley, who won the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 2000 with Kona Gold, equated training and racing on a synthetic surface to swimming across a river full of alligators. “Some of us will survive, some won't,” he said. [Evening Standard UK]
After all the talk about how awful 2008 was for the sport, between this and the precipitous handle declines reported for last year and, especially, December, 2009 ain't starting out much better.