10/01/2010 3:03PM

Santa Anita, Oak Tree present dates cases to TOC

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. − Representatives with Oak Tree and Santa Anita made presentations to the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California on Thursday, seeking the organization’s support to host six weeks of racing in Southern California in the fall of 2011.

The TOC did not take a position on the matter, president Arnold Zetcher said. Both sides seek to run a meeting from Sept. 28 to Nov. 6, 2011.
Oak Tree leased Santa Anita for a fall meeting from 1969 to 2009 and has shifted its meeting to Hollywood Park this fall. Oak Tree and Hollywood Park have agreed to run a 2011 meeting at Hollywood Park, but Santa Anita wants to host its own race meeting next fall.

Oak Tree and Santa Anita each made 40-minute presentations to the TOC board Thursday.

“They asked us to talk about the future,” said Oak Tree executive vice president Sherwood Chillingworth. “We talked about purses and innovations that we plan to make. They were very receptive.”

Oak Tree has held discussions with Del Mar to shift its 2012 meeting there.

“We have a commitment to run at Hollywood Park through 2011,” Chillingworth said. “For 2012 and beyond, that is going to be the subject of a lot of talks in the industry in the next three months. We’d like to settle 2011.”

Last month, the California Horse Racing Board did not take action on the 2011 Southern California racing calendar, asking industry officials to conduct further meetings.

Scott Daruty of MI Developments, Santa Anita’s parent company, said the issue of 2011 dates is likely to be discussed through the fall and not resolved by the racing board’s next meeting Oct. 14.

“I think a strong argument is we should wait another month and gather more facts for the situation,” Daruty said.

He said Santa Anita’s presentation Thursday focused on Santa Anita’s strengths in drawing crowds and the track’s desire to build a long-term calendar for Southern California’s Thoroughbred circuit.

“The 2011 racing dates are important but what we think is equally important is what we do with the racing calendar on a long-term basis,” Daruty said. “We’re looking to help the racing industry with a long-term solution.”

Said Zetcher: “Our intent was to not come to a conclusion but to understand what was going on. I learned from them things that I wasn’t aware of.”