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Santa Anita Park will upgrade main track using sand excavated at LAX

Horses pound the dirt track at Santa Anita Park
Horses pound the dirt track at Santa Anita Park
Suzanne - neusuz5/flickr Creative Commons

Call it Southern California soil synergy.  

Sand dug up in El Segundo for construction projects at Los Angeles International Airport will head to Arcadia for use in a major renovation of the main track at Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita is planning the renovation of the one-mile track beginning July 11, less than two weeks after the current spring horse-racing season ends.  Trucks are already carrying what track officials call "highly coveted El Segundo Sand" and staging it in the race track's infield parking lot.   The sand is being screened for foreign materials and large rocks.

“We’re going to be moving 20,000-plus yards of material and we anticipate this process is going to take about four or five weeks," said Santa Anita track superintendent Dennis Moore in a statement on the park's web site.   "El Segundo Sand is naturally occurring and we won’t have to mix it with any other material, which is best-case. The best surfaces around the country are all made of naturally occurring soils that are indigenous.”

Track officials say the reddish-brown El Segundo Sand will ensure balanced drainage during periods of wet weather and a consistent, safe cushion for horses throughout the year.  That's important at Santa Anita, which has added twelve additional weeks of horse racing to its annual schedule after the closure of Hollywood Park racetrack in December of last year.  

"This track needs to be as close to an all-weather track as you can have in this day and age," said Alan Balch, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers Group.  Balch adds Santa Anita is open for training for most of the year but will close during the seven-week season at Del Mar race track, which ends on August 31.

"Once the new track is done, it's basically going to be open for training almost year-round," Balch said.  

The main track has been renovated many times since Santa Anita's founding in 1934, Balch said. Several years ago, it was converted to a synthetic track but then returned to a dirt track in 2010. 

Santa Anita officials have not disclosed the cost of this latest renovation.