10/26/2006 11:00PM

CHRB awards dates after long conflict


ARCADIA, Calif. - After months of debate over the division of racing dates for 2007, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park were given longer race meetings than originally assigned by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday, and Santa Anita was awarded the hotly disputed week of April 18-22.

At a marathon seven-hour meeting at the Arcadia City Hall, the CHRB failed to resolve a messy dispute between the TVG account-wagering service and the Thoroughbred Owners of California regarding the distribution of revenue from bets placed through Internet and telephone services. The dispute, which has been simmering for a year, is scheduled to be heard at a CHRB meeting next month.

Most of the debate on racing dates centered on the week in April. Both Santa Anita and Hollywood wanted to run that week, but the board awarded the week to Santa Anita, citing the track's higher attendance and handle, which generates higher revenue for purses.

Santa Anita's winter-spring meeting will run from Dec. 26, 2006, through April 22, 2007. Santa Anita had been assigned 84 days by the CHRB's strategic planning committee, which held several hearings on racing dates in recent months. The schedule was amended to 85 days at Thursday's meeting.

The CHRB gave Santa Anita an additional day, Dec. 28, and restructured the schedule in January and February, adding two Wednesdays, Jan. 10 and Feb. 14, and dropping two Wednesdays, Jan. 17 and Feb. 21.

Santa Anita officials argued successfully that they were entitled to 17 weekends of racing during their winter-spring meeting. Hollywood Park officials argued that they were entitled to a 13-week meeting, which would have given them the week of April 18-22. They said they should be awarded the extra week after installing a synthetic track earlier this year.

Instead, Hollywood Park was awarded a 63-day spring-summer meeting, from April 25 to July 16. The track was given three more days than it originally was assigned - May 23, July 2, and July 16. As a result, there is a one-day break - rather than the usual two days - between the end of Hollywood Park's spring-summer meeting and the start of the Del Mar meeting on July 18. In past years, the board had expressly stated a desire to avoid having only a one-day gap between meetings.

In addition, Hollywood Park was given three additional days at the end of its fall meeting, which will run 33 days from Nov. 7 to approximately Dec. 20. The meeting had been scheduled to end on Sunday, Dec. 16.