By Steve Andersen
DEL MAR, Calif. – Southern California racing officials have reached a tentative agreement for racing dates for three years and long-term offtrack stabling beginning in 2017, executives said on Thursday.
The proposal will be presented to the California Horse Racing Board for ratification at committee and board meetings in the coming days at Del Mar.
No agreement has been reached on racing dates for the Northern California Thoroughbred circuit, with negotiations likely to continue for another month or two, several officials said.
The racing board’s dates committee is scheduled to meet Monday to hear updates on proposed dates for both Thoroughbred circuits. The Southern California schedule from 2017 to 2019 is likely to look similar to the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the first two years of racing following the closure of Hollywood Park in late 2013, officials said.
For 2017, Santa Anita will run from Dec. 26, 2016, to July 4, followed by a two-week summer meeting at Los Alamitos. Del Mar will race for 36 days from Wednesday, July 19, through Monday, Sept. 4.
Los Alamitos will host the Los Angeles County Fair meeting for three weeks in September before Santa Anita begins a five-week autumn meeting in the final days of September through October.
In the final months of the year, Del Mar will run a four-week meeting from Nov. 1-26 before Los Alamitos hosts a three-week meeting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17.
Del Mar’s 2017 summer meeting will open on a Wednesday for the first time since 2013. Del Mar’s current summer meeting opened on a Friday last month. The Del Mar autumn meeting will include the Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 3-4.
The dates could be approved by the full board on Thursday.
The Southern California calendar was part of a greater discussion of offtrack stabling at Los Alamitos, officials said. Racetrack and horsemen’s organizations recently reached a multiyear deal for the stabling of up to 850 Thoroughbreds at Los Alamitos on a year-round basis. Los Alamitos replaced Hollywood Park as a year-round stabling venue in early 2014 but operated on annual deals in recent years.
Los Alamitos track chairman Ed Allred said the stabling agreement is a three-year deal that requires a two-year notice of termination. The stabling agreement will last up to 10 years, through 2026, and increases permanent stalls for Thoroughbreds at that venue to 850, Allred said.
The agreement provides for eight weeks of racing per year at the Orange County track.
Allred said the new stalls could be in place as early as January, pending legislation that would provide funding through an industry program.
The multiyear plan has the support of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, according to chief executive Greg Avioli.
“We think it’s a good thing for owners and trainers and bettors to have stability,” Avioli said on Thursday.
“If the CHRB wants to proceed with it, we can have a longer view. The key to this is stability and the tracks and the horsemen working together.”
Some aspects of negotiations on dates in Northern California have focused on the timing of race meetings in conjunction with county fair activities, according to racing board executive director Rick Baedeker. Officials said discussions are likely to continue until September before a resolution is presented to the racing board.
“There are a lot of different desires,” Baedeker said. “It’s a classic case of not being able to please many people this year.”