04/28/2009 12:00AM

Hollywood cancels Thursday card


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A severe horse shortage in California has forced the hand of Hollywood Park, which cancelled live racing Thursday due to insufficient entries. Despite postponing the draw by two days, it became clear late Tuesday morning there were not enough horses to make the Thursday card go.

Hollywood vice-president Eual Wyatt Jr. stated it simply. "The factors are that we could not fill a representative card; we didn't have a choice," he said.

Hollywood will remain open for simulcasting on Thursday. Live racing at Hollywood will resume Friday with a 1 p.m. post. Night racing is schedule to resume the following Friday, May 8.

Hollywood, which opened its spring-summer meet on April 22, has struggled to fill races. Average field size opening week was 7.27, nearly one horse fewer than the average field size (8.25) during the 2008 spring-summer meet.

When the Wednesday card came up light (60 horses entered for eight races), it was only a matter of time until racing secretary Martin Panza simply ran out of horses for Thursday.

"Could I have pieced together six races? Maybe," he said.

Track officials will huddle this week to discuss a course of action for the remainder of the Hollywood meet, which ends July 19. A reduction in racing days to four per week will be considered, as will continuing to run five-day weeks with fewer races per day.

"We're going to sit down and take a look at it, and make decisions that need to be made," Wyatt said. "What the future brings, I do not know. We're open for simulcasting [Thursday], and there will be live racing Friday."

One upshot of the cancellation is improved appeal of the Friday card. There were 75 horses entered on the eight-race card, and only one maiden-claiming race.