03/14/2011 6:01PM

Oak Tree to be paid for stakes rights


The non-profit Oak Tree Racing Association will receive $500,000 this year from the parent company of Santa Anita Park for the right to run Oak Tree's stakes races during a fall meet, according Oak Tree's top official.

Oak Tree, which had held a fall race meet at Santa Anita for 41 years until 2010, when it moved its meet to Hollywood Park, will use a portion of the money to distribute to charities, according to Sherwood Chillingworth, the executive vice president of Oak Tree. Oak Tree had derived the vast majority of its revenue from its live race meet in the past, though the company also runs a foundation that derives revenue from its investments.

The payment by MI Development Corp., the parent company of Santa Anita, will allow the track to run high-profile prep races for the Breeders' Cup, such as the Yellow Ribbon, Goodwood, Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, Norfolk, and Oak Leaf stakes, all Grade 1 races during its fall meet.

"It keeps us in the public eye," Chillingworth said.

The agreement will also allow Oak Tree to continue to retain office space at Santa Anita and receive bookkeeping services from the track's staff through 2012, Chillingworth said. Oak Tree is currently in negotiations with Del Mar Thoroughbred Club near San Diego as a host for a potential 2012 meet, but California's racetracks have hinted that they believe the 2012 schedule will be a free-for-all.

"Things are pretty fluid out here," Chillingworth said.

The California Horse Racing Board awarded Oak Tree's traditional dates to Santa Anita at a board meeting in February.