09/19/2013 8:17PM

California Horse Racing Board confirms 2014-15 racing dates


POMONA, Calif. - The Southern California Thoroughbred calendar without Betfair Hollywood Park was clarified on Thursday when the California Horse Racing Board confirmed racing dates for the next two years. The board also announced that beginning in February offtrack stabling will be divided among Barretts Racing and Sales, San Luis Rey Downs and Los Alamitos.

The board granted five weeks of Thoroughbred racing in 2014 and 2015 to Los Alamitos Race Course, located in Cypress, Calif., about 30 miles south of Santa Anita. In 2014, Los Alamitos will run a two-week meeting from July 3-13 and a three-week meeting Dec. 4-21, dates previously run at Hollywood Park. In addition, the track will offer stabling to as many as 700 Thoroughbreds on a year-round basis.

Consultant Brad McKinzie said Los Alamitos intends to expand its dirt track from its current five-eighth-mile circumference to a mile this fall, and will run some stakes previously held at Hollywood Park beginning next year. The track will run Thoroughbred racing during the day and continue to offer its mixed meeting of Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds at night during those weeks.

“The Orange County market is a market that screams potential,” McKinzie told the board. “We do not intend to be a placeholder on the Thoroughbred calendar. We plan to offer top-class Thoroughbred racing.”

Santa Anita and Del Mar will also have dates previously assigned to Hollywood Park. Santa Anita will run Dec. 26, 2013 through June 29, 2014, extending its winter-spring meeting for an additional two months, and from Sept. 25 to Nov. 2. Del Mar will run its traditional dates from July 16 through Sept. 3, and host a fall meeting from Nov. 5-30. Barretts will run at the Los Angeles County Fair from Sept. 5-21.

Similar racing dates were finalized for 2015, with possible changes to the autumn months if Del Mar succeeds in attracting the Breeders’ Cup for the first time.

Hollywood Park will conduct its final race meeting from Nov. 6 through Dec. 22 later this year and will close as a training facility on Jan. 31, 2014. The track received approval of its fall meeting from the racing board on Thursday.

There are approximately 1,200 horses based at Hollywood Park. Aside from the 700 at Los Alamitos, as many as 500 horses will be based at Barretts and as many as 495 can be accommodated at San Luis Rey Downs in northern San Diego County, which is currently undergoing refurbishment.

Barretts officials said they will offer stabling at least through July 1, 2014, possibly longer.

Racing board chairman David Israel and vice-chairman Charles Winner had held discussions with officials from racetrack and horsemen’s groups to finalize plans for offtrack stabling. At Thursday’s meeting, officials with the California Thoroughbred Trainers expressed concern about how stalls would be allocated in the event one venue has more requests for stabling than can be accommodated. The issue is expected to be discussed in coming weeks.

Another concern is financing for offtrack stabling. Joe Morris, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said the circuit’s stabling and vanning fund has a current deficit of $1.3 million, which will grow by an additional $1 million in the next year. A portion of takeout from offtrack wagering at satellites is dedicated to stabling and vanning, but the revenue is declining as more people bet through online and telephone accounts.

* The racing board granted approval for the Breeders’ Cup and Sana Anita to run the $150,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup for purebred Arabians on Nov. 1 as part of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup program at Santa Anita.

The race is being funded by the Emirates Equestrian Federation, and is part of a worldwide series of major stakes for Arabians. Earlier this year, similar races were run at Pimlico on the Preakness program and at Churchill Downs on the Stephen Foster Handicap program.

The approval to run the Arabian race was made pending the signing of legislation by California Gov. Jerry Brown allowing a non-Thoroughbred race to be run at a Thoroughbred meeting.

* The board postponed a decision on racing dates for the Northern California fair circuit, pending discussions between the county fairs about the allocation of dates in July and August. The board did approve a race meeting at Golden Gate Fields from Dec. 26, 2013 through June 29, 2014.