Santa Anita cancels New Year’s day racing

Santa Anita canceled its New Year’s Day program 5 1/2 hours before first post after light rain fell through much of Saturday’s card and intensified throughout the night and into Sunday morning.

Track management carded its two turf stakes races — the Joe Hernandez and Robert J. Frankel — early on Saturday’s card so they could get them in before heavier rain fell. They were run over a grass course labeled good.

Santa Anita Director of Racing Chris Merz said 1 1/2 inches of rain fell overnight on the main track, which was sealed at the conclusion of Saturday’s card.

On Thursday, Santa Anita officials, anticipating the rain forecast for the holiday weekend, drew a Sunday card that consisted of eight dirt races. The cancellation wiped out the $200,000 Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a race that attracted the promising Justique. The Santa Ynez, which serves as a stepping stone to the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks on April 1, will now be run next Sunday along with the Grade III Sham Stakes for horses with Santa Anita Derby aspirations.

Racing at Santa Anita is scheduled to resume Monday with a 10-race program beginning at noon. The feature race is the $100,000 Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes for fillies and mares down the track’s hillside turf course.

Merz said four of Sunday’s overnight races that were canceled — races 3, 5, 6 and 8 — will be brought back as “extras” for Friday’s card, which was drawn Sunday. Merz said with another substantial rainstorm forcecast to hit midweek, there will likely be no turf racing Friday.

“We’re probably going to be stuck with another all-dirt card,” he said.

The 47-day Classic Meet has gotten off to a rousing start. An all-time all-sources handle record of more than $26 million was set opening day. The crowd of 41,446 was the largest on-track opening-day turnout since 2016. Santa Anita has handled nearly $50 million over the first three days of the meet.

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