12/02/2010 3:59PM

Hollywood cuts two Wednesday programs


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Hollywood Park has eliminated the final two Wednesday programs of the current autumn meeting – Dec. 8 and 15 – because of disappointing field sizes, the track announced on Thursday.

The track intended to run five days per week for the final three weeks of the autumn meeting, which ends on Dec. 19, but drew only 47 starters on an eight-race program on Wednesday. There were 50 horses scheduled to start on Thursday’s eight-race program as of late morning. Neither program had a race with 10 or more starters.

The track operated on a four-day week schedule – Thursdays through Sundays – for the first four weeks of the autumn meeting, from Nov. 4 through Nov. 28.

Hollywood has often struggled to attract entries in December, in the weeks before the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. Last year, the entire fall meeting averaged 7.53 runners per race. Earlier this fall, the Oak Tree at Hollywood meeting averaged 7.42 starters per race, while the current fall meeting, which began on Nov. 4, was averaging 7.34 starters through Wednesday.

There are some owners and trainers who are waiting for the Santa Anita meeting on Dec. 26 with their starters because the circuit’s purse structure is scheduled to rise by approximately 25 percent with the start of the meeting because of legislation passed earlier this year that increases the takeout on exotic bets. The additional money from the increased takeout is earmarked for overnight purses.

Even so, Hollywood Park racing secretary Martin Panza said he is puzzled that trainers from some of the smaller barns who have not had widespread success are not taking advantage of the smaller fields at the current meeting.

“I can’t blame some people for waiting for Santa Anita because they’re winning,” Panza said. “There are a whole bunch of people who don’t win and I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”

Panza said he is working with a horse population of “around 2,700, give or take” at Hollywood Park, and Fairplex Park.

Santa Anita will have a four-day racing week for most of January and February for its upcoming meeting, which the exception of racing on two holiday Mondays during those months.