05/09/2013 1:04PM

San Luis Rey Downs to refurbish track, stables


The San Luis Rey Downs training center in northern San Diego County is expected to be closed for four months beginning June 2 for a refurbishment of its stables and dirt track, according to Santa Anita president George Haines.

San Luis Rey Downs is owned by The Stronach Group, which also owns Santa Anita. The facility had been leased to a group of horsemen until late March, when Santa Anita officials resumed management and began making plans for the refurbishment.

The training center has capacity for approximately 575 horses, but currently houses about 100 horses, Haines said.

San Luis Rey Downs could soon take a more prominent role in Southern California Thoroughbred racing. Hollywood Park has told its employees it will close as a racing and year-round training center at the end of this year, creating the need for stabling at other locations.

There are approximately 3,000 Thoroughbreds in training in Southern California. Santa Anita’s stable area has capacity for 1,900. Barretts Racing at Fairplex Park in Pomona has capacity for 1,200. Fairplex Park officials said last month they would like to host year-round training in the event that Hollywood Park closes at the end of this year.

Jim Cassidy, president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said Wednesday that several trainers based at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park have expressed an interest in having horses at San Luis Rey Downs after the facility is renovated.

Haines said there have been discussions about constructing a seven-furlong turf course for training as well as building turf gallops on the property, but that has not been finalized. The main track is one mile in circumference.

“San Luis Rey Downs has a chance to be a world-class training center,” Haines said. “We have every chance to restore it to the top level.”

Trainers with horses based at the track have been asked to relocate by June 1. They are expected to move their horses to Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, which is open for training.

For many years, trainers based at San Luis Rey Downs have used the facility to prepare 2-year-olds for their racing careers. Some trainers are based there on a year-round basis and ship to Southern California tracks.

The most prominent horse stabled there was Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year. Her trainer, Laura de Seroux, was based at San Luis Rey Downs year round.