04/07/2013 6:45PM

California's uncertain 2014 racing calendar topic of emergency meeting at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California has scheduled an emergency meeting at Santa Anita on Thursday to discuss the uncertainty surrounding the 2014 racing schedule and future stabling issues at Southern California tracks.

At a 90-minute open forum on Sunday, TOC chairman Mike Pegram said the TOC has significant reservations about methods to finance a proposed expansion of Barretts Racing at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.

The Southern California racing calendar is likely to undergo significant changes in 2014 if Betfair Hollywood Park is closed for commercial and real estate development. Hollywood Park has guaranteed that it will race through December of this year, but has not committed to being open for racing and training in 2014. Many industry officials do not expect the track to operate in any capacity in 2014.

As a result, Barretts Racing has emerged as a likely venue for expanded racing dates. Del Mar and Santa Anita are expected to request longer race meetings in 2014 from the California Horse Racing Board when racing dates are awarded later this year.

Los Alamitos Racecourse in Cypress, Calif., which conducts a year-round Quarter Horse meeting, made presentations to industry groups earlier this year to expand its track to accommodate Thoroughbred racing. Los Alamitos withdrew the offer in late March, citing disagreements with the California Thoroughbred Trainers association about expansion plans and no desire to fight for racing dates with Fairplex Park.

The TOC board recently reviewed a proposal from Barretts Racing to finance $20 million worth of expansion and improvements with a 30-year bond backed by racing purses. Pegram said the proposal left the TOC board “concerned” about the financial commitments required.

“We have seen the [Fairplex] plan and the economics on it will be tough,” Pegram said. “Thirty years is a long time to bind the purse agreement.”

Pegram said one solution would be contributions from Del Mar and Santa Anita, paid for through their expanded racing dates, to help offset the costs of the expansion. He expressed further concern about finding revenue sources to pay for year-round stabling at Fairplex.

At Thursday’s meeting, Pegram said the Barretts Racing proposal will be discussed in further detail, along with racing dates for Del Mar and Santa Anita.

 “Hopefully there will be some consensus on dates for Del Mar and Santa Anita and find out what the industry needs, what is affordable,  and what is doable,” Pegram said. ”The board has more due diligence to do.”

Some proposals for a 2014 racing schedule would have the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting running through mid-June, instead of its customary closure on the third weekend of April. Del Mar, which runs a seven-week summer meeting, could seek a fall meeting, and has stated a desire to host a Breeders’ Cup meeting at that time of the year in the future.

Barretts Racing at Fairplex could operate short meetings of three to four weeks in duration from mid-June to mid-July, and from mid-November to mid-December. The track currently hosts a three-week meeting in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Fair each September.

One major concern expressed by the TOC regarding the expected closure of Hollywood Park is the loss of stalls for a second barn area in the Los Angeles area. Barretts Racing at Fairplex can accommodate more than 1,000 horses, but officials there have stated they also want additional racing dates.

The San Luis Rey Downs training center in Bonsall, Calif., in northern San Diego County, is owned by the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, and has emerged as a potential site for expanded off-track stabling.

The Stronach Group recently resumed operating the training center from a leaseholder, doing so with the intent of installing turf gallops and accommodating approximately 500 horses, Pegram told the open forum. San Luis Rey Downs currently houses approximately 100 horses.

 

Mendivel More than 1 year ago
A few years ago the TOC took funds from the clientele with the intent to purchase Santa Anita when Magna Entertainment filed for bankruptcy. Why doesn't the TOC do the same thing for Hollywood Park. Hollywood Park was the first track to host a breeders cup, Bobby Frankel stabled his horses there and it was Zenyatta's home track. I think Hollywood Park is essential just as a training facility.
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
I would say the TOC and the CHRB are in Stronach's pocket. Why else would the CHRB allow Santa Anita to go back to dirt after a few horrible attempts to fix a drainage problem associated with the synthetic surface? The CHRB is so screwed up, they tell all major tracks they must race on a synthetic surface and then allow Santa Anita to go back to dirt but no one else.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Don't hold your breath waiting for a new race track.The only way it will happen is if a casino is on the site.Racing with all the druging going on is hurting.Look at N.Y. since the casino has opened the $$$$ are all over the place.All the tracks with a casino are doing o.k.Slots are the answer
Nathan More than 1 year ago
you will need to wear a hat with feathers and live in a tent to get a casino in l.a. also, where is the nfl team? only in america.
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
Only casinos in California are on Native American soil, state will not allow casinos at race tracks. The legislators just will not let it even go to ballot.
eleno carlin More than 1 year ago
This terrible, what's happening out here. But I will say that no matter what fairplex park has to expand its inevitable. It was suppose to happen yrs ago. Don't think the logic is right putting thoroughbreds in Los Al. I don't trust mike pegram. Dudes lookingf or Los Al to not come out of pocket on any deal. I'm sick of these types of deals going down in SoCal. Seems like going through a type of government is the only way to make money these days. Fairplex is actually a good meet given the competition and purses an expanded track will only help the industry in socal weather its ye round racing At SA. Expand fairplex already and stop pressing this its quite simple. Stronach capitalize on any deal Los Al doesn't wanna pay too much for it and Barrett's racing is coming in with outside money. All these article just expose how broke we are in CA.
Mike Puder-Ramirez More than 1 year ago
Its about time Hollywood Park Closed down. The track is in a horrible location, still operates on a stupid synthetic surface and no longer attracts the quality horses it once did.
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
They operate on a synthetic surface because they were forced to by the CHRB. They are in a bad location, right next the staples center and LAX.
russell More than 1 year ago
Racing in NY was on the down spiral in the late 1990's and two things happened. Kentucky purses started to go down and NY got the legislation for slots. The racing at Aqueduct and Belmont was not good for about 5-7 years. If it had not been for Saratoga NY wouldve been in the same situation as California is now. That said, Sportsman's Park closed and racing in Hawthorne and Arlington stayed the same. Sometimes its better when tracks close because we really have too much racing in America and not enough horses. A day at the races is special in Europe because their meets don't race long. Maybe thats the answer. Racing year round at Parx aint the answer or any place.
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
Racing in California as a whole is spiraling downward. On a Sunday card at Santa Anita there were five races on a 9 race card with six or fewer horses. Who really wants to bet that type of card. Hollywood also is hurting because of the millions they were forced to spend on installing a synthetic track. The CHRB requires all major tracks in California to race on synthetic surfaces. Santa Anita was allowed to go back to dirt because they had flooding due to poor drainage of their synthetic surface. The vendor for the surface collected from their insurer, Santa Anita did not have to pay. Just my opinion but it sure seems like they just did not want to fix the flooding just so they could go back to dirt. All the while, Golden Gate and Hollywood struggle due to that major expense and Del Mar who also had that major expense, well having one of the largest handles in the country during their meets. Also Del Mar uses their facility for more than racing.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
i love short fields. look a the pick 5 sunday, except for the 1st race, both pick4's and the pick 6. shorter fields gives the real horseplayer a great advantage. g.p. was impossible. s.a. gives you a chance. nyra is very difficult because of all the state bred races plus you have to decide who has the better juice going between r.r.,b.l., d.j., j.s., c.e., s.a., and klessaris and hushion. impossible. embrace the short fields and make money,
Alan More than 1 year ago
I agree with Kyri Freeman. The current economy is still not great, but it isn't as bad as it was either. Given how Inglewood is, why do these people who want to tear it down think that people would want to live there? Losing Hollywood Park is not a good idea. It should remain standing. And I find it hard to believe that Betfair would have signed that deal if the track was closing only a couple of years after the deal was put together. Let Hollywood Park stand.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
I have a lot of trouble believing that the current economy will sustain a commercial development on the Hollywood Park site, and I certainly don't believe that that would be the best choice for the community or for CA racing. Let's make a decision in everyone's favor for once, rather than continuing to let this state be run for the short-term financial benefit of developers who "develop" empty housing developments and failed malls and move on with their loot. Hollywood Park should stay.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Get Rid of Mike Pegram and the "MORONS" that monitor this site............
Jim Wissig More than 1 year ago
Please no more Breeders Cups on synthetic tracks
Nathan More than 1 year ago
the euro's love the synthetic and kick ass. you won't see them on the dirt ever again. look at last year opposed to 3 years ago on the synthetic.