06/03/2010 11:00PM

Oak Tree's meeting with Magna pushed back


The Oak Tree Racing Association, which has leased Santa Anita for an autumn meeting since 1969, is moving closer to relocating to Hollywood Park this fall after failing to meet with executives of Santa Anita parent company Magna International Developments to discuss terms of a lease arrangement, Oak Tree executive vice president Sherwood Chillingworth said on Friday.

Chillingworth was scheduled to meet with MID executives face-to-face this week, but he said on Friday that MID had postponed the discussion until June 22, the date that MID chairman Frank Stronach is scheduled to appear before the California Horse Racing Board to discuss the future of Santa Anita.

"We can't wait until the last minute," Chillingworth said Friday. "Our preference would be to stay [at Santa Anita], but we can t wait forever. We would hope that Magna would come forward with something we could accept. They have asked us to wait until Frank comes out."

Chillingworth said that waiting until late June could make the transition to another venue more difficult. He said Oak Tree is in the midst of planning for the fall meeting, such as advertising and promotions.

Hollywood Park and Del Mar have expressed a desire to host Oak Tree, but Chillingworth said the logistics of moving a meeting that is less than four months away makes Hollywood Park the choice for 2010.

"If we make the move this year, it would be easier to make the transition to Hollywood because of the trainers," he said.

In early May, MID voided Oak Tree's lease for the five-week fall meeting, indicating that it wanted to develop a new lease. Also last month, the California Horse Racing Board affirmed that the rights to five weeks of racing from Sept. 29 to Oct. 31 later this year belong to Oak Tree and can be run at Del Mar or Hollywood Park.