06/05/2009 12:00AM

Hollywood drops final five Wednesdays


Hollywood Park received approval from the California Horse Racing Board on Friday to eliminate racing on the final five Wednesdays of its current spring-summer meeting, which runs through July 19.

Despite opposition from labor unions and the racing board's chairman, John Harris, the request was approved by a 5-1 vote after a 95-minute debate.

Hollywood Park will not run on June 17 and 24 and July 1, 8 and 15, but will offer simulcasting of northern California fair races on the last four days.

Citing a reduction of race-ready horses in Southern California, Hollywood Park received permission from the racing board in May to eliminate one day a week from its calendar, from the week of May 18 through next Wednesday. Friday's request extended that policy.

Hollywood Park officials said the move to a four-day week has increased average field size per race from 7.52 starters from April 22 through May 17 to 8.42 starters per race since the week of May 18.

Labor officials said the lack of a five-day week would cost their members wages and would make it more difficult to acquire health and pension benefits. Officials in Northern California said the move to a four-day week would make it difficult for fair tracks to attract simulcast bettors on the final four Wednesdays of the Hollywood Park meeting.

Harris opposed the move to a four-day week, saying that Hollywood Park stated it would run a five-day week when the license for its application was approved in March.