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Lava Man 1st Horse On Santa Anita Cushion Track
In the US, multiple Gr1-winner Lava Man "became the 1st horse to train over Santa Anita Park's new all-weather Cushion Track surface when he jogged over the main track at 4.45am," reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Cushion Track (installed at a cost of more than US$10 million) "is composed of silica sand mixed with synthetic & elastic fibers & shredded rubber; the material is coated with a blend of wax". Lava Man jogged twice around the 8-furlongs main track (which had been closed since July 5) & trainer Doug O'Neill commented: "He seemed real comfortable on it. Tony Romero, his regular exercise rider, was on him & kept saying to me: Very kind, very kind, patron. And Lava Man just skipped over it. This is truly a historic development for Santa Anita & it's going to be great for the game. It's all about the safety of the horses & credit to the Santa Anita people for putting the safety of the horses first." Due to safety concerns, California tracks were mandated by the California Horse Racing Board to convert to synthetic surfaces: Hollywood Park has also installed Cushion Track & Del Mar has installed a Polytrack surface. Santa Anita president Ron Charles declared: "We're excited! This is an historic date & to have a horse of Lava Man's magnitude throw out the first pitch, so to speak, is truly an honor for us. There's no question this is a safer surface. I think it's a more consistent surface & hopefully it's a fairer surface. And it's something you're going to see more & more tracks go to, simply on the basis that we need to keep our horses safer & sounder." Santa Anita's Cushion Track will make its racing debut on September 26.