CHRB Focuses on Racing Dates

CYPRESS, Calif. (June 25, 2015) -- Negotiations over Northern and Southern California racing dates were again in the spotlight during the monthly California Horse Racing Board meeting June 25 at Los Alamitos Race Course.

The Northern California dispute over 2016 dates, between The Stronach Group's Golden Gate Fields and the California Authority of Racing Fairs, appears to be the most perilous, considering Golden Gate's threat at an April CHRB session to close its doors.

BALAN: Golden Gate Threatens Closure at CHRB Session

With Golden Gate's proposal of having a fair meet in March and a Golden Gate meet in the late-summer months that have normally been reserved for the fairs, contrasted with CARF's proposal, which would essentially be the same as the 2014 schedule, it appears the sides have a long way to go before reaching resolution. There also are multiple other proposals for Northern California, as well.

"My problem is, I've got six fairs to deal with and one closes and one opens, one closes and one opens," said commissioner Steve Beneto. "That's been going on for years. You've got vendors moving from fair to fair. That's the way they make their living ... There's so many things happening besides racing, the change of dates—like the one Golden Gate gave us, with four weeks in March—that's just ludicrous ... There's more to it than just racing dates. You have to look at the whole package."

The conversations regarding Southern California's 2016 dates, part of a year-to-year shakeup, with the industry still trying to find a formula in the wake of Hollywood Park's closure, appears to be closer to resolution, although CHRB chairman Chuck Winner ultimately said he'd like both jurisdictions to come to an agreement by August.

The Southern California proposals, however—submitted by, Track Profile" Del Mar, Santa Anita Park, Los Alamitos, the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and others—also feature points of contention.

Del Mar and Santa Anita's joint proposal largely calls for a repeat of 2015, with Los Alamitos losing one week in December, because Christmas Eve and Christmas fall on a Saturday/Sunday in 2016.

Los Alamitos has countered with a plan for two four-week meets (June 22 to July 19 and Sept. 8 to Oct. 4), as well as a one-week meet from Dec. 26-31.

The CTT plan would move Los Alamitos' dates to a three-week span in April-May, splitting Santa Anita's long stretch, and another four-week block in June-July.
Winner pointed to the recent resolution between Santa Anita and Los Alamitos over dates in late September of this year—Stronach representative Scott Daruty said before the meeting that the disputed dates of Sept. 26-27 would go to Santa Anita, while Los Alamitos would retain Sept. 24-25—as inspiration for future resolution.

"It got worked out because everybody had the good will of trying to do what's best for racing ... Obviously, there are disagreements ... We've got a lot of different calendars suggested, which is what one would expect, and some submitted multiple. We're going to have to spend some time and evaluate the suggestions," Winner said.

While most of the session was devoted to discussion items, the CHRB did act on a significant measure, officially ending the synthetic-mandated era in California. With no discussion, the board approved the deletion of the "requirement that any Thoroughbred racing association that operates four weeks or more of continuous Thoroughbred racing in a calendar year install a polymer synthetic racing surface."

Another pertinent topic discussed was the presence of backstretch security cameras at California tracks, a focal point for commissioner Madeline Auerbach. Some tracks, like Santa Anita, have cameras for horses entered in stakes with purses of $100,000 or more, but Auerbach was intent on monitoring all horses.

"We're looking to make it not just about (stakes) races," Auerbach said. "This system will go through every single thing we're working on, from the stakes races, the high-end races, to the lowest claimers, to moving ponies in and out. We need this security system, because without it, you don't know, for stabling and vanning, who is there and who is not. We have no way of following what's going on and we're in 2015."