02/13/2013 8:59PM

Fairplex and Los Alamitos present expansion plans to California Thoroughbred Trainers


ARCADIA, Calif. - Funding from public or private sources and a lead time of approximately a year will be needed for Fairplex Park or Los Alamitos to expand its property to accommodate Thoroughbred racing and training, the board of directors of the California Thoroughbred Trainers was told on Wednesday.

Officials with Fairplex Park and Los Alamitos made presentations to a group of approximately 20 trainers, detailing how those tracks could be developed as a second venue for Thoroughbred racing and training in the greater Los Angeles area after the expected closure of Hollywood Park.

Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., has assured the industry that it will race and be open for training through 2013, but has not stated whether it will operate in 2014. Hollywood Park officials have stated a desire to develop the property for commercial and residential uses. As a result, officials stressed on Wednesday the need for urgent action in the Southern California Thoroughbred industry to find a solution to accommodate horses that could be displaced.

Attracting funding and gaining support of the various factions in the industry for racing dates will be vital for either Fairplex Park or Los Alamitos to go forward with an expansion, officials said. Racing dates for 2014 have not been discussed by the California Horse Racing Board. Such discussions typically take place in August or September each year.

Wednesday, it was not clear how the choice would be made on whether Fairplex Park or Los Alamitos expands. The presentations focused on proposed changes at the two venues.

Fairplex Park has proposed a $15 million project that would expand its current five-eighths of a mile main track to six furlongs, widen the turns on the main track, and construct a five-furlong turf course on its infield.

Jim Henwood, the chief executive officer of Fairplex Park, said the project would need financial support from banks. “We would go to the open market,” he said.

Henwood estimated that if Fairplex Park received support to expand the project would “need three months to prep and six months of building.

“We can make these changes on an accelerated basis depending on when Hollywood would close. We would like to find a group that would like to get this done.”

Los Alamitos has proposed a $12 million project that would include the expansion of its main track from five-eighths of a mile to 7 1/4 furlongs - just short of a mile - construction of 700 new stalls, and the use of existing stalls to accommodate stabling. Currently, there is no plan for a turf course.

Brad McKinzie, a consultant for Los Alamitos, said the remodeling of the racetrack could be done by the end of 2013, but the building of new barns would take approximately 12 months from the start of construction.

“This is where we could be up against it,” McKinzie said. “It will be 14 to 16 months before we have everything done. The racetrack could be done in less time, if Hollywood Park decides to close.

“We’ve got three months of permitting and engineering before we turn a shovel.”

Los Alamitos would also have capacity for Thoroughbreds in its existing stable area, which is not fully occupied with Quarter Horses and the cheaper Thoroughbreds currently racing at that track.

McKinzie said that Los Alamitos owner Ed Allred will not fund the proposed expansion and does not plan to operate any Thoroughbred meets. Instead, outside investors would be required to finance the expansion and would operate race meetings.

Both Henwood and McKinzie said that short race meetings in the summer and fall are needed for investors to recoup costs.
Fairplex Park currently hosts a three-week Thoroughbred meeting each September. Los Alamitos conducts a year-round nighttime Quarter Horse meeting.

Los Alamitos is proposing that when Thoroughbred racing is held at that track, nighttime Quarter Horse racing will be suspended during those weeks and three Quarter Horses races will be run daily at the end of each Thoroughbred program.

The CTT, which represents trainers in the state, did not take action after listening to the proposals. McKinzie urged the industry to find an immediate solution to avoid a chaotic situation if Hollywood Park closes and Fairplex Park or Los Alamitos is not ready to accommodate an influx of horses.

“We’re not going to go to the racing board and say, ‘Pick us,’” McKinzie said. “There has to be a consensus in this industry of how to move forward. This industry needs to decide what’s best.”


eleno carlin More than 1 year ago
Thouroghbreds in OC?? Nah its bad enough trying to get to Hollywood park nowadays I hate going thru OC talk about shopping cart traffic on a cul de sac road. Los Al is for quarters only there is a reason they race at night. OC is for tract homes and strip malls. I'd pick Pomona they haven't messed it up yet no Walmarts and not too much suburbia traffic. IE is a horse loving country and LA horse players still gamble with cash. There is also two train stations nearby. One will be almost on site. Airport is nearby. I try to avoid OC all together
NotMike More than 1 year ago
This is a critical decision for horse racing in Southern California and time is of the essence. There needs to be a suitable off-site training center in the Los Angeles area to help support Santa Anita, which will recieve the bulk of the California race dates that will become available when (not if) BHP closes up (and yes that is undeniable).
Michael Arndt More than 1 year ago
A five furlong turf course would be beyond unfair to horses on the far outside.
Michael Cusortelli More than 1 year ago
A 5-furlong turf course? Five furlongs?
Nathan More than 1 year ago
relax. hollywood park will be around for a long time. the guy you have to worry about is stronach. first chance he gets and the barn area and parking lot at s.a. get turned into a office/shopping complex. believe it. look how he destroyed g.p. as a place that horseplayers could enjoy. now it's for tourists only. dining? only if you have the black amex.
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita only has dirt because of flooding issues when the synthetic track was in. The CHRB gave them an exemption, so they could return to dirt. The CHRB does not consider Fairplex or Los Alamitos to be major tracks, so they can keep dirt. The fair facilities are also allowed to keep dirt surfaces because of the major cost to install synthetic surfaces and they run short meets. California is struggling with horse racing because of the excessive all around cost to owners, trainers and race tracks. The tracks have trouble competeing against the casinos. The trainers have to pay workers compensation and the owners pay more tax in California than any other state. Hollywood has struggled for a whilenow and ownership continues to consider selling off the property. After spending $35 million to install a synthetic racing surface, Golden Gate is finally getting back on their feet. It will be interesting to see how things unfold. Mr Stronach is the only guy to come out fine, hegot a full refund on his sythetic track install at Santa Anita because the provider never could fixthe flooding issue.
Victor More than 1 year ago
$35 million for a synthetic surface. Are you joking. It wouldn't cost that much if the entire surface was shredded $20 bills.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Why not have year round racing at Santa Anita?
Chris Lake More than 1 year ago
It MUST be me but.......what the hell is wrong with including Golden Gate Fields in this discussion? I realize that it's NOCAL, but....change the synth back to dirt, has a great turf course, minimal construction to allot the incoming. It would be great. Otherwise, I see Del Mar extending dates....
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
I would think and have been around horse racing 50 + years and have a good view of it.......................that.. Los Alamitos.. Is the ONLY choice between the 2...... ...Why?? Look at the crowds that come to Santa Anita the worlds best racetrack where in the 50's brought 80,000 people on a Saturday...You look at Del Mar and it's the only track in California that can draw any kind of a big crowd by today's standards. And who would want a short mini track to run on... for major competition?? Sure we all love the short bull ring Pomona track..But it is a competely different kind of athmosphere and it's a fair track with your $2000 $3000 claimers and so forth....... Thru the Years it's always just been a great fun experience..BUT somehow .....some way Alamitos has got to come up with a Plan for a Turf course !!! If I remember right ... there was a company in California that was considering building a new race course up north maybe thats the correct way to proceed...But location is the key for Alamitos.........
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
The track up north was to be in Dixon. The citizens voted against it.