05/11/2006 11:00PM

Plans for state's future offered

Benoit & Associates
Foxysox, winning the Senorita, could start in the Honeymoon if her sore foot improves.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Track executives from Fairplex Park and Los Alamitos presented expansion proposals to a group of 25 industry officials on Friday at Hollywood Park, the track they each hope to replace on the Southern California Thoroughbred calendar.

With Hollywood Park facing an uncertain future - its owner has said it may develop the property if alternative forms of gambling are not legalized - Friday's meeting was mostly a chance for Fairplex and Los Alamitos to makes sales pitches to a room of influential people.

Fairplex Park, in Pomona, and Los Alamitos, in Cypress, want to expand their tracks from five-eighths of a mile to a mile. They each want to install a turf course and make massive renovations to grandstand and backstretch facilities.

Both tracks made 30-minute presentations to the officials, who represented racetracks and horsemen's organizations. Neither track has broken ground, contingent on Hollywood Park's future and the acquisition of racing dates from the California Horse Racing Board.

The future of California's Thoroughbred circuit became a major issue last summer, when Hollywood Park was sold by Churchill Downs Inc. to the Bay Meadows Land Co., which also owns Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, Calif. Bay Meadows officials said the absence of alternative forms of gambling that would generate more revenue could lead to the closing and development of the track.

Friday, Terry Fancher, the president of the Bay Meadows Land Co., was pressed on Hollywood's future by Cliff Goodrich, the former Santa Anita president. Goodrich is a consultant to Fairplex Park.

"Racing will not cease before three years" at Hollywood Park, Fancher said. "We're going down the path of alternative entitlements for the property. We're not saying racing will end in three years. It may go on forever."

Fancher said that entitlements, or zoning changes, have been sought at Bay Meadows for six years, with no plans to cease racing in the near future.

In the event that Hollywood Park closes in 2008 or 2009, Fairplex Park and Los Alamitos would need a lead time of approximately two years to complete permit applications and for a construction period, officials with those tracks said.

Fairplex Park officials said their project would cost $100 million, with financing coming from public and private sources. Fairplex Park is operated by the Los Angeles County Fair Association, a not-for-profit company. Fairplex Park currently conducts a Thoroughbred meeting in September.

The Los Alamitos project would cost "north of $50 million," according to Mike Pegram, the Thoroughbred owner who is spearheading the project. He is negotiating with Los Alamitos owner Ed Allred on a long-term lease on the track's Orange County property. Los Alamitos operates a year-round Quarter Horse meeting.

"We've spent a lot of money, and at some point we're going to need to know when to go," Pegram said. "We're talking about an 18-month to two-year buildup."

The meeting was headed by California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard Shapiro. He has taken a proactive stance on racing's future since becoming chairman last winter.

"This is no prediction or suggestion that our current racetracks will no longer be operating," Shapiro said. "But should the racing landscape change, what are the options?

I think it's incumbent on the industry to determine its course."

Foot injury keeps Foxysox out of training

Foxysox, the winner of two one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies this spring, is battling a sore foot, trainer Carla Gaines said.

The injury was detected earlier this week following Foxysox's win in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on May 6. Gaines said that Foxysox had not resumed training as of Friday, and that Foxysox has had recurring foot problems since arriving from England last winter.

"She's had some minor issues with feet off and on," said Gaines. "Our surfaces are a little sturdier than theirs. She's fine other than that. I pulled her shoes and gave her a few days of walking. We'll let her take us along and see."

There are two more major stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf at this meeting: the $175,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on June 4 and the $750,000 American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles on July 2.

Gaines said that Foxysox will start in the Honeymoon "only if she's doing good. We were planning on going along with the turf season as long as she gets the distance."

King's Drama scratched from Jim Murray

King's Drama, the winner of the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita in March, was scratched from Saturday's $250,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap on Friday after trainer Bobby Frankel said he was unhappy with the weights.

King's Drama was assigned top weight of 122 pounds, one more than Grey Swallow, the 2004 Irish Derby winner who was expected to go favored.

Frankel said he was not aware that King's Drama was the topweight until he saw the entries on Thursday. Weights were released last weekend.

Frankel said that King's Drama was fit to start and that the horse will be sent to his New York stable.