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Santa Anita Park has temporarily retained highly-respected racing surface specialist Dennis Moore as a consultant, effective immediately. A former Track Superintendent for nearly 5 years, Moore will be on-site as a reportedly precautionary measure with regard to the condition of the main track, which has come under intense national scrutiny as of late.
The news of Moore’s return comes after an alarming spike in the number of fatalities due to severe injuries suffered during racing and training. The main track was closed February 26-27 so that a full inspection of the both the main track’s racing surface and its cushion could be performed. Racing surface specialist Mick Peterson was brought in from Kentucky to assist with the inspection, but the results found no evidence of any issues with the track.
Racing resumed as scheduled on February 28, but just two days later on March 2, Eskenforadrink broke down during the third race, which was held on the main track. On March 5, Lets Light the Way became the 21st horse to suffer a catastrophic injury since the current meet opened on December 26 when she broke down during training that morning.
Moore had previously served as Santa Anita’s Track Superintendent from 2014 until December 31, 2018, when he entered semi-retirement. According to a Santa Anita Park press release, Moore was chiefly responsible for providing Santa Anita with the “El Segundo sand” which was installed here to universal acclaim in 2014. The 69-year-old has more than 46 years of experience working with racing surfaces in California and worldwide.
Moore remains the Track Superintendent at the other two southern California tracks, Del Mar and Los Alamitos, and was also reportedly involved with assisting track maintenance officials at the new Arizona Downs (formerly Yavapai Downs), located in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
The rise in fatalities at Santa Anita Park has drawn national interest from news organizations and animal welfare activists alike. The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), the state’s governing body, has been involved with the inspections as well. One can only hope that, with Moore’s assistance, the problem(s) will be identified and these tragedies can cease.
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