Santa Anita postpones fall opener 1 week due to wildfire

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Opening day of Santa Anita’s fall season will be pushed back a week until Sept. 25 because of poor air quality caused by a wildfire burning near the Southern California racetrack.

The meet had been set to open Saturday.

The city of Arcadia, home to Santa Anita, ordered the residents of one neighborhood to evacuate as the fire that began Sept. 6 in the mountains north of the track continued to grow. The fire has cast a shroud of smoke that has given Los Angeles some of its worst air quality in decades. The Red Cross is using Santa Anita as an evacuation zone for residents.

Racing secretary Steve Lym said the smoke has impacted some horses’ training schedules.

“As excited as we are to welcome back live racing, we are first and foremost committed to safety,” said Aidan Butler, executive director of California operations for The Stronach Group, which owns the track. “This is the responsible decision to make at this time so people can plan accordingly.”

The three stakes races that had been set for this weekend will be run next weekend. That’s when seven races whose winners are guaranteed entry to the Breeders’ Cup in November will be run as well.