02/18/2013 2:14PM

Hollywood Park: Friday cards moving from evening to afternoon for spring-summer meet


Betfair Hollywood Park will conduct racing on Friday afternoons for the upcoming spring-summer meeting, track president Jack Liebau said on Monday. The decision ends more than two decades of racing on Friday evenings during the spring-summer meet.

The track’s application for a spring-summer meeting from April 24 to July 14 will be heard by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday. The application states that Hollywood Park will run afternoon programs throughout the season. Racing will be conducted largely on a Thursday-through Sunday basis.

In past years, Hollywood Park held rock concerts after racing on Friday nights in an attempt to attract younger audiences. Liebau said an effort to attract larger concert crowds with higher-profile bands was not successful during the 2012 spring-summer meeting.

“Last year, we went for the larger and more popular bands and it didn’t work out economically,” he said. “In past years, we had gone for one or two big bands. We decided to go all-in and it didn’t work.

“We had received some criticism, and I think some of it justified, that we weren’t able to convert concertgoers into racing fans. We had a lot of people that seemed to come just for the concerts. We’re not in the concert business.”

While the concerts attracted a larger-than-normal crowd than on a typical weekday, the added business did not result in higher mutuel handle, Liebau said. Because racing did not end until after 1 a.m. Eastern on Saturdays, there was a loss in simulcast business.

Liebau expects handle to be higher on Fridays for the forthcoming spring-summer meeting.

“I know I’ll do better on Fridays because of the time zones,” he said. “If you run Friday (nights), you’re sacrificing most of your out-of-state handle. We gave it a try.”

Hollywood Park has run Friday evenings during virtually every meeting since 1991, even through different owners. The track ran a series of twilight programs in 2001 that were considered unsuccessful.

The upcoming meeting could be the track’s last during the spring and summer. Liebau told the racing board in January that the track will operate through 2013, but did not commit to racing or being open for training in 2014.

The track’s parent company, Bay Meadows Land Co., has stated a desire to develop the property for residential and commercial uses.