10/15/2008 11:00PM

Dates proposals focus on fairs


ARCADIA, Calif. – The racing calendar in Northern California will undergo significant changes in 2009, with extensive racing at Golden Gate Fields and a consolidation of race meetings at fewer county fairs, racing officials told the California Horse Racing Board on Wednesday.

With Bay Meadows having closed earlier this year, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Authority of Racing Fairs each proposed a schedule to the racing board. The racing board did not take action on 2009 dates on Wednesday.

The two proposals differ on the summer and fall schedules for the county fairs, with the fair season starting in June under the TOC proposal and in July under the CARF proposal.

The TOC proposal includes a two-week county fair meeting at Stockton in June, three-week county fair meetings at Pleasanton and Santa Rosa in July and August, a four-week fair meeting at Golden Gate Fields in August and early September, a two-week meeting at Ferndale in August, a three-week meeting at Sacramento in September, and two weeks of racing at Fresno in early October.

Under the TOC proposal, Golden Gate would run from late December 2008 to June 14, 2009, run briefly as a fair meeting in August, and conduct a fall meeting from Oct. 16 to Dec. 13, 2009.

The CARF proposal, which did not address the major Golden Gate meetings, begins the fair season on July 1 with three-week meetings at Pleasanton and Santa Rosa, two-week concurrent meetings at Ferndale and Golden Gate in August, a two-week meeting at Sacramento in late August and early September, three weeks of racing at Stockton in September for three days a week, and a two-week meeting at Fresno ending on Oct. 12.

Neither of the proposals includes fair racing at Vallejo, which ran for about two weeks this past July. Under both proposals, the Golden Gate August meetings would replace the San Mateo County Fair at defunct Bay Meadows.

The TOC would direct profit from the Golden Gate fair meeting to finance improvements to Pleasanton, which is expected to ask for more racing dates in coming years. CARF would allocate profit from Golden Gate’s fair meeting to finance debt on the intertrack betting facility at the San Mateo Fair.

Discussions at the CHRB meeting on the Southern California circuit focused on whether Hollywood Park would conduct a fall meeting in 2009. Hollywood Park has committed to running through its spring-summer meeting in 2009, and at Wednesday’s meeting track officials said they will give a six-month notice if the track is to be closed later in 2009.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated who would profit from a Golden Gate fair meeting under a proposal by the Thoroughbred Owners of California. Profit from that meeting would go to finance improvements at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, not to the TOC.