The recent shutdown at Santa Anita as a safety concern for athletes has shaken the pillars of the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing on the West coast. Does that mean this iconic sports venue is not what it claims to be…The Great Race Place???

Today’s society is all about knee-jerk over reacting. Was there a situation here that needed a closer look? Absolutely right on that one and that is exactly what the people at Santa Anita are doing. Most folks in the game are about safety first and there were an alarming number of incidents in a short time frame. That is why the shutdown has occurred because a potential problem was recognized.

So what is the problem? Unfortunately the nature of the beast is sometimes accidents happen and injuries are a part of the game. For these four-legged athletes a serious injury can be fatal… same as a wreck at Talladega motor speedway. The biggest cause of this particular situation is likely just a lot of bad luck. Of course some define luck as opportunity meeting preparation, but I’m not sure that applies here. Mother Nature has been very cruel of late to the racing game as the amount of rain has doubled from a year ago. Of course the track has to be able to handle the moisture and still provide a safe racing and training surface. Knowing the ability of your athlete to handle the “off” track is important, but that is another of the unpredictable things that falls into you can’t always know category.

There is a science to preparing a grass and dirt track for Thoroughbred racing. These guys aren’t just fellas that mow grass and play in the dirt. Hired gun Dennis Moore is now on the case for Santa Anita and is one of the most highly respected in the business by horsemen. Figuring out the right combination of dirt, sand, and other ingredients is his specialty.

Things are always going to happen in life. It’s not the happening that is the issue, it’s how you handle it. The people at Santa Anita are working to address the concerns and hopefully soon enough this all will just be something in the rear view that serves as a learning experience. Like baseball bats that are too hot, astro turf that is unsafe, or football helmets that don’t protect, it’s not the end… It’s just an unfortunate bump in the road.

Santa Anita is and will continue to be The Great Race Place.