12/17/2015 6:06PM

Off-track stabling agreement paves way for Santa Anita, Golden Gate licenses


CYPRESS, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board approved licenses for winter-spring meetings at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita at its monthly meeting at Los Alamitos Racecourse on Thursday after the racetracks and horsemen organizations recently finalized agreements for off-track stabling in 2016.

Off-track stabling in Northern and Southern California will be similar to recent years after discussions on costs took place in the last month between the parties, but a change is likely in Northern California next fall.

Off-track stabling in Northern California could be consolidated to Golden Gate Fields for a seven-month period beginning next October, according to Scott Daruty, an executive with The Stronach Group, the parent company of Golden Gate Fields. Daruty said that additional stalls are scheduled to be built at Golden Gate Fields to accommodate horses previously based at Pleasanton.

The move would lead to the temporary closure of the Alameda County Fairgrounds at Pleasanton as an off-track stabling venue until the spring of 2017. Both Golden Gate Fields and Pleasanton would be needed for off-track stabling from the spring through the fall of 2017 to accommodate a larger population of horses in training at that time.

Daruty and Joe Morris, another executive with The Stronach Group, said the closure of Pleasanton would result in savings of approximately $200,000 a month, of which approximately $100,000 would be redirected to purses. Daruty said the deal was contingent on the passage of legislation that would help finance year-round costs of off-track stabling.

Licenses applications for Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita were discussed at the racing board’s monthly meeting at Del Mar in November, but were given conditional approval contingent on the completion of horsemen’s agreements that included off-track stabling.

Both tracks open on Dec. 26. Golden Gate Fields runs through June 12. Santa Anita has two meetings scheduled – Dec. 26 through April 10 and May 5 through July 10. The track has not committed to racing the final four days of the meeting from July 7-10. Los Alamitos will race for three weeks in April.

In Southern California, off-track stabling for 2016 will be similar to the past two seasons, with Los Alamitos, Galway Downs, and San Luis Rey Downs in use. In recent weeks, there were discussions in which Del Mar would have been open for off-track stabling for the first five months of the year, but officials opted for a one-year plan continuing what was in place.

Claim void rule to expand

The racing board voted to expand the criteria for which a claim can be voided to include runners that bled from the nostrils.

Currently, claims can be voided for unsoundness, or if a horse suffers a fatality during the running of a race or is euthanized before leaving the racetrack.

The expanded rule to include horses that visibly bleed will take effect in the first few months of 2016, pending a legal review from the state’s office of administrative law.

Rick Arthur, California’s equine medical director, said this year that 41 horses were placed on the vet’s list for bleeding through Dec. 1. He said 27 of those horses ran in claiming races, and four were claimed.

The determination of whether a horse has bled from the nostril will be made by an official veterinarian. The new rule had the support of the California Thoroughbred Trainers Association, which spoke on behalf of the change at Thursday’s meeting.