05/21/2013 12:57PM

Santa Anita, Del Mar to seek extra 2014 dates at CHRB meeting


ARCADIA, Calif. – The Santa Anita winter meet will extend to early summer – more than six consecutive months of racing in Arcadia from Dec. 26 to July 6 – pending the California Horse Racing Board allocation of 2014 dates.

A redesigned Southern California racing calendar necessitated by the looming closure of Hollywood Park is the chief topic Thursday when the CHRB meets in Sacramento. In addition to the Santa Anita proposal, the CHRB will consider a request from Del Mar to conduct a one-month November fall meet in addition to its annual summer meet.

Due to the importance of the issue, CHRB action – allocation of 2014 dates – is expected Thursday. The CHRB also will consider 2015 dates.

It is possible, however, the CHRB could defer a decision regarding allocation of dates to a later meeting.

The announcement by Hollywood to cease racing and stabling operations – the track will be turned over to developers at the end of the year – leaves gaps on the circuit to be filled by two remaining major tracks – Santa Anita and Del Mar. Proposed expansion projects at Fairplex Park and Los Alamitos are on hold.

Hollywood historically hosted two meets each year – a spring-summer meet from April to mid-July, and a fall meet from November to late December. Pending CHRB allocation of dates, Santa Anita and Del Mar will fill much of the void.

Both tracks submitted 2014 date requests to the CHRB. Santa Anita requested a long meet from Dec. 26 through July 6, and a fall meet from Sept. 25 through Nov. 9. The track submitted a similar proposal for 2015.

Del Mar requested its annual seven-week summer meet from July 16 through Sept. 3 and a one-month fall meet (four-day weeks) Nov. 5-30.

Del Mar submitted a similar proposal for 2015. Requests from both tracks include overlapping calls for the lucrative Nov. 5-9 week that includes the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. The location of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup has not been announced.

The Santa Anita and Del Mar requests leave gaps, including a short break between meets July 7-15, and, more significant, nearly four weeks in December with no racing in Southern California until the Santa Anita meet begins Dec. 26. Barretts Racing at Fairplex Park will run its annual 13-day Los Angeles County Fair meet in early September.

Challenges that face the industry in the post-Hollywood era are broad.

Several officials this week – speaking on background – consistently repeated two key concerns. Those are a Santa Anita grass course never used for racing in May or June, and the issue of stabling and training. Hollywood’s closure eliminates 1,950 stalls.

The changing Southern California landscape could increase the relevance of the Northern California circuit. That includes a Golden Gate grass course that might be utilized to a greater extent when the Santa Anita turf requires a respite.

One-third of the races during the 2012-13 Santa Anita winter meet were on turf (205 of 616). The grass is winter rye, and functional for a four-month meet that lasts until April.

But seasons change, and it is unclear how the Santa Anita course would handle six months of use. This could become a particular concern in the spring-summer months of May and June when the winter rye typically is scalped.

A second issue is stabling and training. As of mid-April, the circuit’s horse inventory was close to 3,000 horses. The closure of Hollywood puts Santa Anita as the circuit’s only year-round facility, with stall space for 1,800 racehorses plus 200 stalls typically left open for shippers and ponies.

San Luis Rey Downs in north San Diego County is being refurbished and will have room for 575 horses. Fairplex has room for about 1,200 horses, but is not open year-round. Officials at Fairplex have said they are considering hosting year-round stabling, but have yet to find a suitable financial arrangement.

Jack Pritchard More than 1 year ago
If Today's Management doesn't WAKE-UP they soon will be closing all Calif. Tracks...
Paul G More than 1 year ago
It is difficult for horse racetracks to survive without some patronage. The reason for this is simple. The key to success in business is knowing how much money you will make before you invest. But, of course, horse racing is gambling, through and through. Real estate in California is valuable. Thus, it is possible for investors to calculate the potential profit of adding new housing and shopping malls. These concrete profits are hard to resist in favor of horse racing. Santa Anita, on the other hand, has great patronage. Lets not forget that Hollywood Park is located in Inglewood, whereas Santa Anita is located in that part of southern california that has famous museums, libraries, an arboretum, and rose queens. (I just wish more people could have gone to Hollywood Park in person. They would have enjoyed cool breezes, seen flamingoes, and enjoyed a laid back, fan friendly atmosphere. You only appreciate something when it is gone forever.)
Black More than 1 year ago
You said it Paul . Hollypark was near enough to the beach to be very comfortable for humans & horses spring/summer. It is a beautiful track. The track of the lakes & flowers. Santa Anita in the late spring early summer is hot & smoggy.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Hollywood was the beginner handicappers course. 5 and 6 horse fields, chaulk, chaulk, chaulk, Santa Anita is your next step up, we will call it the intermediate handicapping leve, 6-8 horse fields an occasional blow up on the tote. Then if u have any money left.by the end of summer Del Mar will happily suck it up, 10 plus fields, competitive racing, the only Cali track the rest of us actually care about haha I'm a Santa Anita fan too
Nick Arden More than 1 year ago
I'll miss Hollywood but we'll always have its history and besides it wasn't the same after they got rid of the dirt.
qwiksilverx More than 1 year ago
Del Mar and Hollywood were my dark period for horse racing anyway (don't like Del Mar; didn't like Hollywood). If Del Mar takes over any of the Hollywood winter dates it will not change my calendar. Now more dates at Santa Anita is just fine with me (maybe not friends and family since I am just "not available" during Santa Anita).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How about SA running until the Belmont Stakes, then Los Al can run a 2 week Orange County Fair Meet. The calendar can go dark for 2 weeks or so until Del Mar opens in mid July. 2 weeks off would help racing in SoCal, they have to acknowledge the short horse population somehow.
Ryan Farnsley More than 1 year ago
Del Mar can't start any earlier than mid July because the month long San Diego fair that is located at Del Mar runs until Mid July and will not change it's dates. So seven weeks until Labor Day is the Summer meet until this new fall meet starts in 2014.
petem More than 1 year ago
"it is possible they will defer a decision on dates to later on" Of Course they will. How about just waiting until the day before the tradional SA meet ends next April, then when the new condition book comes out list the track where the races will be..... Idiots right to the very end.
KHubb83 More than 1 year ago
Maybe its just because I live in San Diego, but Id like to see a much longer meet at Del Mar. 7 weeks is nothing. Del Mar is such a beautiful track and location. I understand that Los Angeles is a far more populated area but you can still go to Del Mar on a wednesday and and see as many people as you would at Hollywood Park. I think a longer meet would be great and hopefully even a Breeders Cup is in the future.
James Madden More than 1 year ago
I remember Del Mar had a meet in October of 67 and it was a disaster...However that was a long time ago...With no vacationers in the Fall and college kids back in school I dont see much of a difference this time around either...It will be interesting to see what happens...Also at the time there was a 2 month gap between Santa Anita and Hollywood....After Pomona there was no racing in the southland until Dec. 26th....Lots of trainers would just ship up North
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Captain Obvious headline. No one else will be stepping forward, duh!