03/27/2003 1:00AM

Board okays Hollywood scratch plan


ALBANY, Calif. - The California Horse Race Board approved a request by Hollywood Park to place late scratches on the veterinarian's list for 10 days instead of the current five for its upcoming spring/summer meeting. The approval came at the board's regularly scheduled meeting Thursday at Golden Gate Fields.

The approval, which continues an experiment at last fall's 30-day Hollywood meet, means that late scratches will be sidelined for 10 days before being allowed to enter a race again. The approval included the provision that a trainer or veterinarian could petition to bring a horse back sooner in case of a minor injury.

"The purpose of the proposal is to eliminate the abuse of scratches," Rick Baedeker, president of Hollywood Park.

Baedeker said that the experiment last fall led to a 30 percent reduction in late scratches but was inconclusive because the meeting was so short.

While admitting there were some problems with late scratches, both the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Thoroughbred Owners of California expressed displeasure at the proposal, which passed by a 6-1 vote.

The board also chastised Golden Gate Fields for its lack of progress in constructing an equine hospital. The board told the track that it expected "substantial progress" on the hospital by its April meeting or it would look at imposing daily fines until completion.