Santa Anita Race Track's winter races under way despite rain


Despite rainy weather, Santa Anita Park spokesman Mike Willman says opening day will go on rain or shine. The natural dirt track was sealed overnight in preparation so rain can run off the smoothed surface.

"All the water is sheeting to the inside. We'll open that up probably about 30 to 40 minutes in front of first post time and it should be a good fast track."

The winter storm not only welcomed mud along the track but a treacherous commute for drivers across the Southland. Wednesday morning's scattered showers caused a few accidents.

In the Newhall Pass, two separate big rig accidents tied up traffic, one in the truck lanes, and the other on San Fernando Road.

For drivers, crashes were a reminder to take it slow in these conditions.

Dave Laing said he didn't have a problem adjusting to the weather conditions.

Other drivers recommended maintaining a modicum of safety and adjusting your speed out of respect for water, snow, or ice on the road surface.

"Slow down just to be cautious, just in case, you don't want to get into an accident," said Karen Garcia.

There was more sliding and crashing reported in North Hills due to the bad weather conditions. A driver lost control in the rain and took out a bus stop bench along with a light pole.

At the higher elevations, there was plenty of snow. One driver made the trek down the mountain and noticed plenty of drivers weren't prepared for the bad conditions building up.

"There were few people in the ditches and stuff," said Mike Proctor. "They weren't quite prepared for it so I wouldn't even try to go up there without chains."

Trainers, however, were prepared for Wednesday's horse march through the mud at Santa Anita. Southern California's first horsing race track is no stranger to rain.

Trainer Jack Carava denied that the morning storm would wreck the race and said some horses were prepared to get their feet wet.

"Each horse has a little bit different characteristics," said Carava. "Some of them love this kind of weather and others don't so you just try to individualize and put the ones out there that will like it."

In terms of training, Carava said he plans to take it easier on the horses.

"You know, you train a little lighter on these days," said Carava. "It's not our normal routine, you try to just kind of get through it and wait for the fair weather to come. And then we're back to training the next few days."

All fans attending Santa Anita on opening day will receive Santa Anita's traditional wall calendar which features Zenyatta and other female horses.

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