09/10/2010 2:42PM

Oak Tree-at-Hollywood meet gets license approval

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The California Horse Racing Board, in a special meeting held via teleconference, on Friday voted to approve the license for the Oak Tree Racing Association to run its fall meeting for the first time at Hollywood Park, a transfer that had been given the green light by the board at its regular monthly in August.

Since then, however, an official license application, signed off by all parties – owners, trainers, Oak Tree, and Hollywood Park – had to be presented before the board and approved. Had the Oak Tree meeting been conducted at Santa Anita, as in the previous 40 years, the license application likely would have been acted upon at the August meeting.

But when the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Trainers association both requested the transfer to Hollywood Park at the August meeting, citing concerns over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, the board granted the transfer, pending the amended license application. Since the regular monthly meeting in September is not scheduled until Sept. 23, one week before the Oak Tree meeting is scheduled to open, the special teleconference meeting was arranged to expedite the process.

The vote was 5-0. Commissioner John Harris abstained, and commissioner Jerry Moss was absent. The application approves night racing on Sept. 30 and Oct. 8, 21, 22, 28, and 29.

This year’s Oak Tree meeting will run from Sept. 30 through Oct. 31, and then be followed by the regularly scheduled fall meeting at Hollywood Park, meaning Hollywood Park will be the home for Southern California racing for nearly three straight months until Santa Anita’s main winter meeting opens Dec. 26.

In the meantime, Santa Anita is planning to remove its Pro-Ride surface and replace it with a dirt surface. That requires a waiver of the racing board’s 2006 mandate to have Thoroughbred tracks install synthetic surfaces by the end of 2007, which Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Golden Gate all did. The racing board is working with Santa Anita on that process, and the waiver application is scheduled to be heard at the board’s monthly meeting on Sept. 23.