03/31/2013 1:51PM

Santa Anita: Shirreffs intends to stable string of horses at Belmont Park

Benoit & Associates
John Shirreffs intends to move to New York this spring, but intends to keep 25 to 30 horses in Southern California.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Trainer John Shirreffs will have a stable in New York this spring, and plans to have divisions of his nationally prominent stable on two coasts in the future, he said on Sunday.

Shirreffs said he is in the process of contacting his clients to determine which horses will be sent to New York, and which will race in California. He said it was unclear how many horses would be based at Belmont Park in New York, but that approximately 25 to 30 would remain in California.

“I’ve got to talk to my owners and see what they’re comfortable with,” he said.

“I’ve got good people here so I would go to New York myself. It’s a dream of mine to train at Belmont. It would be fun to train over a mile and a half track.”

Shirreffs, 67, who is best known for training 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, went to high school in Port Washington, N.Y., not far from Belmont Park.

Shirreffs said the split of his stable is partially a reflection on the changing circuit in Southern California. Shirreffs is based at Betfair Hollywood Park, which may close at the end of this year. Hollywood Park officials have not stated whether the track will be open for racing in 2014, and could be closed for residential and commercial development.

If that occurs, Santa Anita and Del Mar are expected to add racing dates. In the Los Angeles area, Barretts Racing at Fairplex Park in Pomona, Calif., is expected to request more Thoroughbred racing dates at times of the year when Hollywood Park previously ran. Los Alamitos, in Cypress, Calif., which has one of the nation’s leading Quarter Horse meetings, withdrew its standing as a potential site for expanded Thoroughbred racing last week.

“I don’t want to leave California,” Shirreffs said. “I love California. I’d have a barn here, probably at Santa Anita, and hopefully come back here for the winter.”

Shirreffs won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo. Through Sunday, his stable has won with 5 of 29 starts and earned $399,078 in 2013.

Last year, the stable had 20 wins from 139 starters and earnings of $1,614,036. His best season was 2009, the year that Zenyatta won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, and the stable earned $5,706,892.