06/13/2007 11:00PM

California legislature hears dates debate

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Representatives of the California horse racing industry appeared before the California Senate Governmental Organization Committee at a hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The hearing, called by Sen. Dean Florez, allowed the California Horse Racing Board and Bay Meadows to testify about their dispute over whether the track will race next year even though it does not intend to install a synthetic surface as mandated by the racing board

The president of Bay Meadows Racing Association, F. Jack Liebau, told senators that the procedural steps that would allow the Bay Meadows Land Company to develop the track could be concluded in 2008. Liebau said the track would like to continue racing at least through 2008 depending upon the dates it is given.

The racing board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, said he had only one vote, but that he would be willing to allow Bay Meadows to remain open for racing for 2008.

The meeting was a preview of what will be discussed at next Tuesday's racing board meeting at Hollywood Park.

Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows have been meeting to work out possible dates for 2008 and will meet with the California Authority of Racing Fairs, California Thoroughbred Trainers, and Thoroughbred Owners of California to coordinate a tentative dates proposal at that meeting.

Senator Leland Yee, whose district includes Bay Meadows, has been able to hold up funding for the racing board for the fiscal year, which begins July 1, and has asked for Shapiro's resignation. The Tuesday meeting was the first chance for Shapiro to address Yee's concerns on the record.