Updated on 09/15/2011 12:37PM

Stall rate hike irks trainers

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A 50 percent hike in daily stall rent at the San Luis Rey Downs training center in Bonsall, Calif., has some trainers concerned that they will be forced to raise their daily rates. As a result, they say, some owners may chose to send horses to trainers based at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park instead.

The increase, from $8 to $12, is tentatively scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, according to officials with Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment, which owns the northern San Diego-county training center.

Horsemen were informed of the rate hike on Monday by Brant Latta, general manager of Santa Anita, a track owned by Magna.

"A lot of trainers are upset, and it got heated" at the meeting with Latta, said trainer D. Wayne Baker, the president of the San Luis Rey Downs horsemen's association. "I'm sure there are couple of people who can afford it, but many can't."

The training center, used on year-round by about 35 horsemen who compete at Southern California tracks, is home to 445 horses and is near capacity, according to Baker.

Baker said many trainers at San Luis Rey Downs charge owners $55 to $60 a day per horse and that some absorb the stall rent in their daily bills. By comparison, trainers at Los Angeles tracks charge $60 to $90 per day and do not pay rent.

Latta said that the rate hike was inevitable since San Luis Rey Downs, which was acquired by Magna in 1999, is losing money. He said electricity costs are $20,000 more this year than last year.

"We've got to stop the losing," Latta said.

Latta said the price hike is tentative and could be less by Sept. 1. He asked horsemen for cost-saving ideas, such as not training on Sundays, but no resolution was reached on Monday.