05/09/2007 11:00PM

CHRB budget at issue


A California Senate subcommittee eliminated the California Horse Racing Board's $10.8 million budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year at a hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday, according to the office of Senator Leland Yee, who asked for withdrawal of the funding.

The subcommittee will address the board's budget at upcoming hearings. If the funding is not restored by July 1, the start of the fiscal year, it could threaten the continuation of live racing in the state because the board's budget includes funding for drug testing and the salaries of racing officials.

In a statement, racing board executive director Ingrid Fermin said, "We anticipate this will be resolved, and we prefer not to speculate on what might happen otherwise."

The racing board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, was not available for comment.

Yee's request to withdraw funding was supported by the subcommittee's chairman, Michael Machado, who called for more communication between the racing board and state senators. Yee's district includes San Mateo, where Bay Meadows is located.

Yee has criticized the racing board for mandating that Bay Meadows install a synthetic main track in 2008.

Bay Meadows officials asked the racing board in March for a two-year exemption from installing a synthetic surface, saying the track would eventually be developed for other uses. The racing board rejected the request. Bay Meadows officials later said they would not seek racing dates for 2008.