04/21/2014 6:30PM

Deal reached to move racing dates from Fairplex Park to Los Alamitos


September Thoroughbred racing in Southern California is moving to Los Alamitos.

On Monday, officials with Los Alamitos and Barretts Sales and Racing at the Los Angeles County Fair reached an agreement to relocate the 11-day race meeting previously run at Fairplex Park on the Los Angeles County fairgrounds to Los Alamitos.

The deal is contingent upon approval by the California Horse Racing Board, which could discuss the issue as early as its monthly meeting at Santa Anita on May 22. The issue is not expected to be discussed at the racing board’s next meeting at Golden Gate Fields on Friday.

The move will require legislative approval allowing the Los Angeles County Fair to run its race meeting in another county. Los Alamitos is located in adjacent Orange County, about 35 miles from the Los Angeles County fairgrounds in Pomona.

The expected transfer of the racing dates would mark the end of live racing at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona. Racing began at the Los Angeles County Fair in September 1933, shortly after the legalization of pari-mutuel racing in California.

In a statement issued Monday, county fair chief executive Jim Henwood said the Fairplex Park facility was no longer viable.

“With the limitations of our facility, we made a strategic decision for the continued growth of the industry to reach out to Los Alamitos and seek to move our dates to their facility,” he said.

Fairplex Park was allotted racing days from Sept. 5-21 this year. Last year, Fairplex Park ran a 13-day meeting during the corresponding time, a three-day weekend followed by two five-day racing weeks from Wednesdays through Sundays. Los Alamitos is expected to run an 11-day meeting in September, dropping the two Wednesdays.

Earlier this year, Los Alamitos completed a renovation of its main track to expand the racing surface from five-eighths of a mile to a mile in circumference. The expanded track was completed to accommodate two meetings for Thoroughbreds already scheduled – a two-week meeting in July and a three-week meeting in December. Los Alamitos does not have a turf course.

Those dates were previously held by Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., which closed last December. Other dates previously held by Hollywood Park were awarded to Del Mar and Santa Anita.

The addition of the Los Angeles County Fair dates would give Los Alamitos eight weeks of Thoroughbred racing this year. Some industry officials expect the addition of afternoon Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos to give the racing business a boost in Southern California. Los Alamitos is in Cypress, on the northern end of affluent Orange County. Los Alamitos currently runs a year-round night meeting for Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds.

The decision to shift the Fairplex Park racing dates to Los Alamitos was approved by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which released the statement Monday announcing the agreement.

“With the marketplace challenges horse racing faces, it is more important than ever that we connect our sport with a new audience,” said TOC president Joe Morris. “Los Alamitos has made a tremendous investment in the past year to build a first-class one-mile track, and they are located right in the middle of an exciting new market in Orange County.”

Los Alamitos has capacity for 500 Thoroughbreds, which is being expanded to 700 with the construction of new stalls. Track officials have said temporary stalls could be in place during live race meetings to expand capacity for Thoroughbreds to 900. The track has started several capital improvement projects to its grandstand.

“We plan to immediately work with the CHRB and other industry stakeholders to make sure these racing dates are used to add value to the California Thoroughbred racing calendar,” Brad McKinzie, the general manager of the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meetings, said in a statement.

On Thursday, a spokesman said Fairplex Park was not prepared to make extensive capital improvements on its grandstand or expand its current five-furlong racing surface, leading to the decision to cease racing there.

If the deal goes through, Fairplex Park will be the second racetrack to close in the Los Angeles area in the past year. But unlike the last meeting at Hollywood Park, which saw fans flock to the Inglewood track in its final days last December, Fairplex Park would not get a sendoff.

In Monday's statement, Fairplex Park officials stressed that they will remain in the racing business with a simulcast operation, the Finish Line sports grill, which is located within the Barretts Sales pavilion. The simulcast business will be expanded, Fairplex Park officials have said.

It was not immediately known what impact the transfer of Fairplex Park’s racing dates would have on the Barretts Sales operation. Barretts hosts two sales of 2-year-olds in training in March and May. The Fairplex Park racetrack is used for training previews in advance of those sales. Barretts also hosts a mixed sale in January and a yearling sale in October.

Jerry B More than 1 year ago
I would like to talk to these guys - Chee and Henwood.....what a couple a morons ! lmao
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
I just don't understand the hype of Los Al, Three words say's it all.... "NO TURF COURSE" not only are losing race tracks but quietly we're also losing Turf Racing ??????
Robert Gomez More than 1 year ago
Fairplex was a fun meet . You had the bull ring race track, fair rides and a great atmosphere . You could bet races in the day then go to the fair at night. Most of the first level jockeys took their vacations during that meet so it was a chance for the second tier jockeys to make a living. This is putting all their eggs in los Alamitos basket.
Jerry B More than 1 year ago
Your right! , but for some reason, morons like Henwood and Chee think the can't run a short , good - fun , unique race meet un less your running on a mile track with major upgrades! Fairplex was fine for its purpose , like you say, it was a break from all the top horses trainers and jocks.
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Lol.... during the conversations about keeneland and del mar going back to dirt, someone said California racing was the best around. Lol These fools in Cali shut down more tracks in the past 10 years, than all of Europe has. Excuse me, im off to bet a steady diet of 10-20 horse fields in England.
Kip Sudduth More than 1 year ago
Who cares
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whats with all these idiots who say the track needed upgrades to continue racing?. Why do all these greedy fools think you need a mile track and a brand new grandstand to run a 13 day meeting of horses- at a fair , that are a cut below the usual but still made for good / fun racing??
ML NJ More than 1 year ago
Very sad. Fairplex was a unique place. Real racing (as opposed to the late Massachusetts Fairs, that I had attended much more often.) in a real fair setting. I liked it.
Leslie Burke Fernandes More than 1 year ago
I used to make a ton of money at Marshfield Fair. It closed in 1991 I'm still sad.
ML NJ More than 1 year ago
I understand. The Mass Fairs were fun, and profitable for folks who understood them. (Hint: read Beyer's chapter he called "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Crime.") But Fairplex was classy. The pools weren't 100x the purses. And you got a really great view of the racing from high up in the grandstand.
russell More than 1 year ago
What are the purses going to be at Los Al?
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
and you know this because?
TheRaiderFan More than 1 year ago
Glad to hear it. As a better I would much rather play Los Al than the bullring, Fairplex meet has always just been a vacation from handicapping for me. Los Al has an AWESOME surface that trainers have been raving about and I think they'll have a very successful thoroughbred meet so I'm glad to see them pick up a few extra dates. I'll miss the deliciously unhealthy fair food and thats about it, this is much better for the betters and for the horses.
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
Los Al and Fairplex are both garbage, for you to think Los Al is going to be anything better than Fairplex has been then your kidding yourself or your head is buried in the sand
gus stewart More than 1 year ago
OK so now so cal racing has the ideal situation as far as good locations for horse racing.Cypress Pasadena and Del Mar! So lets watch as owners and trainers do nothing to make some changes in post times( ahhhh most people that have money to bet or able to attend racing work during the day and play online) Its not the 80s or 90s where people had more freedom as far as working less hours. Next make Fridays and Saturdays a value entertainment ,some sort of a party like atmosphere. This I strongly feel means night racing. Run some contests not the give away, the average folk who attend races have enough hats and t shirts. Santa Anita calenders is the only exception left on that marketing idea. Now this may not work , but one thing I do know is that if the sport continues to do biz as usual it will continue to decline. Then the medication, workman's comp, and costs of owning a race horse can be looked into. First you gotta get people excited about the sport and that means changes
Jon Stein More than 1 year ago
This is nothing but a CEO, that got shot down a few years back trying to build a mall on the track property, figuring out ways to get rid of a sport he has no use for. The track was run HORRIBLY for the past few years---because he didn't want it run well. He purposely sabotaged the place and now he can make some money and destroy the track at the same time. This has NOTHING to do with LosAl - if they want more dates in 2015, they can take some of the former HOL dates. I wish them well, but the CHRP ought to tell Fairplex that they can forfeit he dates if they don't want them, and if forfeited, all So Cal tracks may apply for those dates. Its sad the CEO of Fairplex can't stand horse racing - fans deserved better - its an icon that could and should be preserved instead of greed, which always seems to win out these days!
Cathy Robinson More than 1 year ago
Absolutely couldn't agree more.
Andrew Connie More than 1 year ago
That's exactly RITE!
Steve More than 1 year ago
The fairplex CEO just wants to bulldoze everything, next to go will be training and then the barns
Kip Sudduth More than 1 year ago
I remember when everyone referred to it as Pomona..........great racing and handicapping ops gone now!