06/26/2008 11:00PM

Hollywood likely to race through 2009


Hollywood Park has committed to operating through the summer of 2009, and probably that entire year, track president Jack Liebau told the California Horse Racing Board on Friday during its regular monthly meeting in Pleasanton, Calif.

"We expect to be allocated our 2009 historic dates," Liebau said after the meeting. "We have committed that we will run the spring-summer meeting, no question, and the fall meeting, if we don’t give six months notice to the contrary."

He said there was a possibility the track could operate in 2010 "if we didn’t give the notice" to cease operating.

Hollywood Park’s parent company, the Bay Meadows Land Company, has said it plans to close the track and develop the property in the next few years. The company also said it will likely close Bay Meadows in San Mateo, Calif., after the San Mateo County Fair meet in August.

Officials at the racing board meeting said contingency plans are being made for Fairplex Park to be expanded for additional stabling and training in the event that Hollywood Park closes.

"The industry as a whole, and Hollywood Park, understands we need an orderly transition," Liebau said. "There’s got to be lead time."

The racing calendar in Southern California would drastically change without Hollywood Park, which traditionally runs a spring-summer meet and a fall meet. Santa Anita, Fairplex Park and Del Mar would likely be awarded additional dates when that happens.

At Friday’s meeting, track officials and representatives of account-wagering companies scheduled a meeting for the week of July 7 to discuss continuing an experiment allowing all account-wagering providers to offer betting on all Southern California tracks. The experiment, which has been widely supported by racing officials and fans, began at the Hollywood Park meeting last fall.