12/13/2015 7:27PM

California expects to finalize plan for off-track stabling for 2016

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CYPRESS, Calif. - A plan for off-track stabling for Southern California Thoroughbreds at Los Alamitos, San Luis Rey Downs, and Galway Downs in 2016 is expected to be finalized before the California Horse Racing Board meeting at Los Alamitos Racecourse on Thursday, according to racing board chairman Chuck Winner.

Winner said on Sunday that recent discussions between officials from area racetracks and horsemen’s organizations have progressed to the point that proposals are expected to be presented on Thursday.

“I think we’re in good shape,” Winner said. “I’m confident the issues have been resolved and by the Thursday meeting all of the documents will be submitted, or will be in the process of being submitted.”

Officials are expected to ratify a one-year deal to house horses at those three venues in 2016. An alternative plan of basing horses at Del Mar for the first five months of 2016 was discussed in the last month.

A deal was near completion on Thanksgiving weekend but fell apart in late November, leading to ongoing discussions. Winner said conversations have continued through the first half of December.

“The stakeholders were talking and have been talking,” Winner said. “All have reached an accord and I’m pleased that they have. The industry came together.”

A deal must be finalized by Thursday’s meeting for Santa Anita to be granted a full license to conduct its winter-spring meeting that begins on Dec. 26. The racing board granted Santa Anita a conditional license at its monthly meeting in November, contingent on finalizing general horsemen’s contracts with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers’ association.

Winner said one aspect of recent discussions is the financing of off-track stabling. Legislation is expected to be introduced in 2016 to aid funding. Terms of the agreement have contingencies if legislation is approved, or if it does not pass.

Horses based at official off-track venues are shipped to area racetracks without cost to horsemen through a stabling and vanning fund. In recent years, the fund has run a deficit of approximately $4 million, a sum taken from racetrack commissions and purses.

Monies for the fund are generated from a portion of simulcast handle from satellite wagering, a figure in decline in the last decade as bettors migrate to account wagering services.

 Discussions are near the final stage for off-track stabling in Northern California, with a plan expected to be enacted similar to recent years for stabling at Pleasanton and Golden Gate Fields.

 “There are a few little issues to be ironed out,” Winner said.