04/27/2006 12:00AM

Uncoupling moves forward in California

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The California Horse Racing Board moved forward Thursday with a plan to eliminate the coupling of entries for horses with common ownership, even though some members of the public have voiced concern over the issue.

The board is expected to meet via teleconference in early May to discuss the terms of a test period during which entries will be uncoupled for wagering purposes. The test is to take place during the current Hollywood Park meeting and the upcoming Bay Meadows meeting.

During a 45-day public comment period earlier this year, the board received "more than 30" letters from racing fans who objected to the proposal, according to a member of the racing board's staff. Some letter writers said they feared that the lack of coupled entries could lead to the manipulation of race results.

At Thursday's board meeting, several racetrack executives spoke in favor of uncoupled entries, citing the expectation of higher handle from additional betting interests.

Horses are now coupled in California if they have one or more common owners, with exceptions made for major stakes.