11/17/2005 1:00AM

Harris: Purse transfer needs CHRB approval


ALBANY, Calif. - The agreement among Hollywood Park, Golden Gate Fields, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California to transfer purse funds from Hollywood to Golden Gate is against state racing law and must be approved by the California Horse Racing Board, said CHRB chairman John Harris on Thursday.

When Hollywood canceled turf racing for its fall meet, officials from the three groups agreed to allocate $166,000 in Hollywood Park purses to high-level Golden Gate turf races. The money would allow Southern California turf horses to ship to northern California and run for Hollywood-level purses.

But Harris said state racing law prohibits transferring purse money between tracks, and that the CHRB would have to make an exception to do it. The transference of those funds has been placed on the agenda for the Dec. 1 CHRB meeting. Drew Couto, TOC president, said the TOC and officials from the two tracks are in the "finalizing process to send a letter to the CHRB" to explain the agreement.

"The board will have to approve," said Harris on Thursday. "You can't move money from one group of horsemen to another. It's good there's turf racing at Golden Gate, but I feel this might be a bad precedent and would like to hear all the arguments.

"The law [against transferring purse money] is very clear, even though this is an unusual situation. If we make an exception, we need a good reason."

Harris applauded the cooperation among the tracks and horsemen, but wondered if the money couldn't come from a source other than the Hollywood purse fund, perhaps the stabling and vanning fund or even from the California Marketing Fund.

Even though the purse boost has yet to be approved, Golden Gate Fields racing secretary Sean Greely said he is beginning to supplement turf purses in anticipation of receiving the money. The purse for a first-level one-mile allowance race on the turf has been boosted from $32,000 to $39,000. An optional $32,000 claimer/first-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf also carries a $39,000 purse. Those purses compare to two Saturday main-track allowance races, which each have a $32,000 purse.

Greely said the boost in purses is helping to fill races there. Some Southern California trainers have already sent turf runners to race at Golden Gate this meet, including Jeff Mullins.

"We're trying to accommodate Southern California trainers as best we can with the extras we write as they prepare for this winter at Santa Anita," Greely said.