By Steve Andersen
ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Horse Racing Board failed to approve a 2017 racing calendar for Northern California on Thursday after a discussion that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours and included testimony from more than a dozen racing and track officials.
The four commissioners present – chairman Chuck Winner, Steve Beneto, George Krikorian, and Alex Solis – failed to reach a required unanimous decision on proposals put forth by the race dates committee earlier this month. The board needed the approval of all four members since commissioners Madeline Auerbach and Jesse Choper were not in attendance.
The racing board is expected to revisit the subject at its next meeting at Del Mar on Nov. 17. For months, racing and track officials have failed to reach a compromise, leading to Thursday’s lengthy discussion.
The dispute centers on the positions of summertime county fairs at Santa Rosa and Cal-Expo in Sacramento, the number of days Golden Gate Fields will operate in late summer, and whether Golden Gate Fields will race simultaneously with the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, the northernmost racing in the state, in late August.
Two proposals discussed Thursday included Cal Expo racing in July and Santa Rosa running for the first three weeks in August, and a plan to have Santa Rosa racing for two weeks in July and Cal-Expo racing for three weeks in late July and early August.
After the board failed to approve an agreement, Winner said the racing dates committee would meet in early November. He appealed to participants to reach a solution in advance of the meeting.
“We’ll have to put this over for one more month, to the meeting in November, and maybe, just maybe, during that period these stakeholders can once again give it a shot,” he said.
“I’m begging you, I’m imploring you, as stakeholders to get together. I think everyone agrees this is an impossible situation. We keep trying to put this puzzle together. Eventually, we’ll just have to impose the dates.”