11/09/2010 4:43PM

Racing board delays talks over California's fall 2011 race schedule

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The California Horse Racing Board on Tuesday put off any discussion on racing dates for the fall of 2011 after horsemen requested additional time to consider the options for the racing calendar.

The decision postponed any resolution to the matter of whether the Oak Tree Racing Association, a non-profit group, would hold its traditional fall meet at Santa Anita Park or Hollywood Park - if it holds a race meet at all. This year, Oak Tree held its first-ever meet at Hollywood Park, after 40 straight years of holdings its meet at Santa Anita.

Officials of the California Thoroughbred Trainers and Thoroughbred Owners of California cited complications arising out of Santa Anita's request earlier this year to race during the traditional Oak Tree dates, along with other uncertainties facing California racing, in requesting the delay. Racetracks are required to have agreements with horsemen in order to hold race meets, and horsemen indicated that they were not ready to reach those pacts.

"All kinds of issues are in the air," Alan Balch, the executive director of the trainers' group, told the board. "The more information, the better, as far as making the best possible decision in the south."

The commission said that they will likely take up the issue at its December meeting.
The board did approve dates requests by Santa Anita to hold a 76-day meet, beginning on Dec. 26 and ending April 17; and by Golden Gate Fields in Northern California to hold a 104-day meet running from Dec. 26 to June 17. Both tracks are owned by MI Developments.

Horsemen and officials of Santa Anita said that overnight purses at the upcoming Santa Anita meet are slated to increase 26 percent compared with last year because of an increase in takeout passed by the legislature earlier this year. The bill allowing for the takeout increase earmarks all of the money that had previously been distributed to bettors to purses.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the closing day of the winter-spring Santa Anita meeting. It will be April 17, not April 7.