08/22/2013 5:48PM

Hollywood Park to allow training for an extra month

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Betfair Hollywood Park, which ceases live racing permanently in December, will remain open as an auxiliary training location for at least a month into 2014, according to discussions at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Hollywood Park officials told industry executives at a meeting on Wednesday that its backstretch will be available through January 2014, and possibly longer “depending on what happens with their commercial venture,” David Israel, the CHRB chairman, said at the racing board’s meeting.

The issues of offtrack stabling and confirmation of 2014 racing dates are expected to be finalized at the racing board’s meeting at Fairplex Park on Sept. 19. The items could have been finalized on Thursday, but vice-chairman Chuck Winner urged a one-month postponement to continue ongoing discussions with Hollywood Park on its plans for early 2014, and for further meetings on a more permanent solution for auxiliary stabling.

Hollywood Park officials have said the track property will be developed for commercial and residential use in 2014. Without Hollywood Park on the Southern California Thoroughbred circuit, officials with horsemen’s organizations and racetracks have been meeting in order to finalize alternative stabling for approximately 1,200 horses based there.

Those horses are expected to relocate to Los Alamitos in Orange County; San Luis Rey Downs in northern San Diego County; and Barretts Sales and Racing at Fairplex Park in eastern Los Angeles County.

Officials with the California Thoroughbred Trainers have extensively lobbied for Fairplex Park to play a leading role in auxiliary stabling because of its proximity to Santa Anita and to the homes of a majority of trainers.

Los Alamitos, which currently operates a meeting for Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds, is remodeling its stable area to accommodate 700 Thoroughbreds, beginning in 2014. Los Alamitos plans to expand its current five-eighth-mile track to a mile in coming months to facilitate additional Thoroughbred racing.

San Luis Rey Downs, currently closed for renovation, has capacity for 495 horses, with preliminary discussions underway to add an additional 300 stalls. Fairplex Park may be used for training for as many as six months of 2014 when the horse population increases through the spring and summer as 2-year-olds reach the racetrack.

Racing board officials asked Del Mar president Joe Harper about the possibility of hosting year-round training. Harper said the issue would be discussed with the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which owns the racetrack property.

The property hosts a variety of events on a year-round basis, notably the popular San Diego County Fair in late June and early July, which would make expanding training difficult.

Los Alamitos will take some of the Thoroughbred dates in 2014 traditionally run at Hollywood. Following recent conversations with Santa Anita and Del Mar, Los Alamitos is tentatively scheduled to have a two-week Thoroughbred meeting in early July, and a three-week meeting in early December.

By doing so, Los Alamitos will take over one week in July previously allotted to Santa Anita and a week in early December originally scheduled for Del Mar’s autumn meeting.

In a phone conversation Thursday afternoon, Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau said the track would not commit to staying open for training after January 2014. He said the track’s off-track betting business will be relocated from the existing grandstand into the adjacent card club-casino in early 2014.

There is a possibility that Hollywood Park could hold the license for a race meeting at Los Alamitos, although track consultant Brad McKinzie told the racing board that the staff of Los Alamitos would operate the meeting. Liebau said that holding such a license “was only a possibility.”

◗ Earlier in the meeting, the racing board approved two policies regarding Lasix use for the Breeders’ Cup programs at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.

Lasix will not be permitted for use in the five Breeders’ Cup 2-year-old races – Juvenile, Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies, Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Juvenile Turf Sprint. Any horse on the racing board’s bleeder list cannot start in those races.

For the other Breeders’ Cup races, Lasix must be administered by a veterinarian approved by the Breeders’ Cup who does not treat horses or work on behalf of a trainer involved in a Breeders’ Cup race.

A similar program was in place in 2012.

In 2014, 2-year-olds will be eligible to race on Lasix at the Breeders’ Cup.