Injuries during horse racing events became a major concern, leading to many racing tracks around the world substituting conventional dirt surfaces for synthetic tracks. Claims were made in regard to the easy maintenance and safety of synthetic tracks, and Santa Anita was one of the racecourses that opted for a synthetic track surface in the hope that the surface would be able to reduce injuries and promote horse safety. But by Monday, 11 October 2010, the paddocks had grown quiet, the stables emptied and the staff were ready for the arrival of the heavy equipment to remove the synthetic surface of their main track.
The main problem with the Pro-Ride track that was installed at the Santa Anita racecourse was its inconsistency. A mixture of natural and artificial materials covered the track, and the synthetic fibers and rubber that made up the cushion surface. Staff and officials struggled to keep the track drained, leading to the cancellation of races. Even after corrective maintenance was done to the track, the stability issues experienced could not be solved. Now, as the machinery starts to slowly uplift the various layers of the synthetic track, all that remains to be confirmed is the mixture of soils that will be used to create the new dirt track. If all goes according to schedule, training at Santa Anita will be able to resume by 6 December, with the first race meeting on the newly installed dirt track being scheduled for 26 December 2010.
After the old surface has been completely removed, new layers of material will be installed, which will have various compaction levels. The layers to the top of the surface will provide cushioning for the horses as they travel across the track. George Haines, the President of Santa Anita racecourse, confirmed that they were working closely with both the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the California Horse Racing Board in regard to the testing and final consensus of the soils and track surface that is being installed. Even though the project is a little time consuming, Haines is optimistic, commenting: “There is a great deal of anticipation from all corners of the Thoroughbred industry and we’re very excited to get this project underway and to return to live racing.”