04/17/2014 9:38PM

Los Alamitos looking to acquire Fairplex September dates


Officials with Barretts Sales and Racing at the Los Angeles County Fair are in advanced discussions with colleagues at Los Alamitos Racecourse to relocate the 13-day Fairplex meeting to the Orange County track this September, according to a Fairplex Park official.

If the racing dates are transferred, it is likely to mark the end of live racing at the Los Angeles County Fair, located at Fairplex Park in Pomona. Racing has been held at the Los Angeles County Fair since September 1933, shortly after the legalization of parimutuel racing in California.

Discussions between officials of the two tracks and other industry representatives were held on Thursday and were expected to continue on Friday, according to Mike Chee, the director of communications for Fairplex Park.
An agreement on the transfer of dates could be reached as early as Friday, he said.

“Things are going hour to hour,” Chee said late Thursday afternoon. “We’re hopeful we can close an agreement by the end of the week or early next week.”

The proposal is subject to the approval of the California Horse Racing Board. The agenda for the racing board’s April meeting at Golden Gate Fields next Friday has been published, but there is no reference to Fairplex Park’s racing dates. The racing board will meet again in May.

Fairplex Park holds racing dates from Sept. 5-21 this year.

Chee declined to reveal terms of the deal.

It was not immediately known what the meeting at Los Alamitos in September would be called, or whether a group other than Los Alamitos management would direct the operation. Los Alamitos conducted the Orange County Fair from 1977 to 1991. More recently, the track has hosted year-round racing for Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds.

Earlier this year, Los Alamitos completed a renovation of its main track to expand the racing surface from five-eighths of a mile to a mile. The track was expanded to accommodate two upcoming meetings for Thoroughbreds – a two-week meeting in July and a three-week meeting in December. Los Alamitos does not have a turf course.

The dates were previously held by Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., which closed last December. Other dates previously held by Hollywood Park were awarded to Del Mar and Santa Anita.

The addition of the Los Angeles County Fair dates would give Los Alamitos eight weeks of Thoroughbred racing this year. Some industry officials expect the addition of afternoon Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos to give racing business a boost in Southern California. Los Alamitos is in Cypress, Calif., on the northern end of affluent Orange County.

The potential transfer of fair racing dates to Los Alamitos continues a tumultuous year for Thoroughbred racing in Southern California. Hollywood Park closed its barn area in January, leading to an expansion of Thoroughbred training at Los Alamitos, Fairplex Park, and the San Luis Rey Downs training center in northern San Diego County.

Los Alamitos has capacity for 500 Thoroughbreds, which is being expanded to 700 with the construction of new stalls. Track officials have said that temporary stalls could be in place during a live racing meeting to expand capacity for Thoroughbreds to 900. The track has also started several capital improvement projects to its grandstand.

Chee said that Fairplex Park officials were not prepared to make extensive capital improvements on its grandstand, or expand its current five-eighth-mile racing surface.

“Our Fairplex facility is a considerably older facility and Los Alamitos is better for handling horses and trainers,” Chee said. “Our facility needs considerable upgrade.

“The whole story is to give Thoroughbred a boost, to reach a new audience and reach new blood.”

Fairplex Park has long-range plans to upgrade its Finish Line simulcast facility, which is incorporated into the Barretts Sales pavilion on county fairgrounds property. Chee said plans for the upgrade have not been finalized and that the project would not be completed by September.

It was not known on Thursday what impact the transfer of Fairplex Park’s racing dates would have on the Barretts Sales operation. Barretts hosts two 2-year-olds in-training sales in March and May. The Fairplex Park racetrack is used for training previews in advance of those sales. Barretts also hosts a mixed sale in January and a yearling sale in October.

“I don’t think we’re ready to make any special comment about Barretts,” Chee said.

Chee said in the absence of live racing that the existing Fairplex grandstand could be used for “live concerts or live entertainment” that “don’t necessarily relate to sports.”

The potential end of Fairplex Park as a racing and training venue is a major concern to horsemen, according to Jim Cassidy, the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers association.

“The thing that bothers me is that if we lose Fairplex Park, if something happens to Los Alamitos or Santa Anita, that’s it for us,” Cassidy said on Thursday. “Fairplex could be a great venue if handled properly.”

Martha Cantarini More than 1 year ago
I think this will be one of the biggest mistakes they have ever made. Do they realize how many new fans came from loving the bull rings where they could actually see the whole race. The fair revenue will be way down I am sure. They are killing a golden era.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Good idea since current fairplex management has no clue on how to run a successful meet. They tried to sell their dates to Santa Anita a few years ago, but the CHRB voted it down. Much better location, general parking is free and admission prices will be much lower than fair prices and cooler weather for the horses
Eleno Carlin More than 1 year ago
Now we're in trouble.. the nothing is truly viable in OC other than real estate.... I don't get it.. LA Angels on there way out.. this would be the beginning of the end of horse racing... I have no plans to go to los Al to begin with... It's part of the charm of the the fair. Why take away from us to fund whom?? Chrb has already destroyed a piece of history with Hollywood closing. Now this... Wtf... Cowards! This is some crooked Obama administration BS.... It benefits no one... Other than the pegrams and stronachs.. chrb has to go... Los Al was abd is for quarter s only... Cuz that's what bets there.. I guess where done competing in this industry.. shameful
Bob Fasching More than 1 year ago
Horse racing in California is in big big trouble. If Hollywood Park had been owned by racing people it would still be running today and with proper marketing it would have succeeded. It's right in the middle of Los Angeles!! But, those days are gone and the reality is it's time to start over. There aren't many of us left but for those who love racing, I am very concerned.
Whoopers Cat More than 1 year ago
Sad....Los alamitos was recently ranked 63rd out of 64 North American race tracks. It is poorly run and has been for decades. Betting handle will be a joke for the July meet and any meet after that. Clueless owner and Brad McKenzie along with a bozo for racing secretary have made this track what it is today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What track was 64?
Whoopers Cat More than 1 year ago
Number 64 was Assiniboia. Its a track in Canada.
Greg Lipford More than 1 year ago
Clueless owner? I'd say he's very clued in, politically at least. He seems to get what he wants.
Whoopers Cat More than 1 year ago
yes he is but he still is an idiot
Greg Lipford More than 1 year ago
Here's a news flash: People like small track racing. Shame on trainers for not racing where the fans like to go. Making all tracks the same is doing more of what is killing racing.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
It has me perplexed, how come there are five tracks, on the eastern side of the Mississippi, to every one track on the west side of the big river, yet, consistently the west coast is better represented in the big races everywhere. This week for example, GOD in West by god Virginia and Midnight Hawk in Obama country or Illinois as it is sometimes referred to; and yet all I here, from uuuse guys in the east, is how much better ur horses are and how crooked our trainers are? Again uuuse say baffert can't win out of California, but he does every year, year in and year out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should they race in Sept. at Los Al I have a few suggestions for the graded or non graded races. The Bobby Doyle Stakes, The Grouchy Joe (The Bartender) Handicap, The Steamboat Stakes, Valley Girl Handicap, The Deuce Invitational...Just a few suggestions...
Joe More than 1 year ago
The "grouchy joe" moniker is very unjust. In fact I am currently at his bar, drinking a cold one and exchanging pleasantries as I have for the past 20 years.
Kevin Moran More than 1 year ago
If you go see the new surface at Los Alamitos the 8 million dollar track expansion is awesome. The backside has been upgraded and there is tons of parking. Besides, everybody is already going to be there in July. I think if you took the time to visit the New Los Alamitos with the longest stretch in North America....you might change your mind.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
why all the 41/2 races? I would not be comfortable betting longer races there for a while.
Joe Quillen More than 1 year ago
There's a contract or law where when they run thoroughbred races during the quarterhorse meet, they have to be run at 4.5 furlongs and use the what is now the first turn off of the backstretch. They run them at low claiming prices as well (I believe $2500 to $5000). The original turn is going to be used for night races while the new turn will be used during the thoroughbred meet.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Longest DIRT stretch. Woodbine's EP taylor turf course is milessssssssssssssss longer.
Kevin Moran More than 1 year ago
After the upgrade Los Al is the longest stretch in No. America. The longest used to be the Fairgrounds. Los Al is 34 feet longer.
Greg Lipford More than 1 year ago
Why does it matter how long the stretch is? With small track racing, you can watch the whole race from your seat.
ncraigmyle More than 1 year ago
Fairplex only leases the land from Los Angeles county and only owns the improvements. Before they can tear up the racetrack it would have to be approved by Los Angeles county. The management is to blame for years of none improvements only to better their yearly bonuses. Very sad.