05/23/2013 4:06PM

CHRB meeting: Stall space chief issue in racing dates discussion


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The imminent closure of Hollywood Park has created widespread turmoil in the California racing industry, and that was reflected while the California Horse Racing Board tried to resolve 2014 racing dates at its monthly meeting held Thursday in Sacramento.

Santa Anita and Del Mar proposed taking most of the 2014 dates vacated by Hollywood, including an extended meet at Santa Anita through early July and a fall meet in November at Del Mar. Those new or revised race meets would be in addition to the annual Del Mar summer meet and Santa Anita fall meet.

But after two hours of often acrimonious discussion Thursday at the CHRB meeting held in the grandstand clubhouse at Cal Expo, the CHRB as of 1:30 Pacific had not voted on the dates proposals by Santa Anita and Del Mar.

Chief among the industry concerns are the issue of stall space and training locations. Specifically, where will the horses be stabled and trained after Hollywood closes its 1,950 stalls.

While the Thoroughbred Owners of California supports the Santa Anita and Del Mar proposals, the California Thoroughbred Trainers voiced concerns regarding stabling and vanning horses from off-site barns to the track.

CHRB chairman David Israel opened discussion of 2014 dates.

“I’d like to start with stabling and vanning issues, because everything comes out of that,” he said.

That began a lengthy debate regarding the availability of stalls.

According to TOC incoming president Joe Morris, there is sufficient space. He said Southern California “has stabling for roughly 2,900 horses” which would be funded by the stabling and vanning fund

Morris cited 1,900 stalls at Santa Anita, 500 stalls at San Luis Rey Downs pending completion of a renovation project later this year, along with 500 stalls at Los Alamitos.

However, the Thoroughbred Owners of California believes any move by the CHRB to award 2014 dates without addressing a permanent solution to the issue of stall space is premature.

“We think the training issue must be resolved first,” CTT executive director Alan Balch said. “We believe that assigning dates [today] is premature.”

CTT supports establishing Fairplex Park, located in Pomona, as a year-round training facility. “We dare not, we ought not, say we cannot afford Pomona,” Balch said. “We need Pomona.”

Officials from Fairplex said the five-eighth-mile track could be opened for year-round training at a cost of $16,000 per day to be paid for from the vanning and staling fund. Santa Anita and Hollywood Park currently receive $18,000 per day from the vanning and stabling fund, when the other track is opened.

Santa Anita spokesperson Scott Daruty pressed the CHRB for action on the dates, as did Joe Harper of Del Mar. Daruty said The Stronach Group would like to move forward with its renovation of San Luis Rey pending a decision on dates.

Harper said that Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s urgency for a 2014 dates decision is because it leases the facility from the 22nd Agricultural District which is in the process of scheduling events for next November.