SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 25, 2013) – The California Horse Racing Board conducted its regular meeting Thursday, May 23, at Cal Expo. Chairman David Israel presided. Vice Chairman Chuck Winner and Commissioners Jesse Choper, Richard Rosenberg, Bo Derek, Steve Beneto, and George Krikorian were in attendance.
The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief:
The Board conditionally allocated Southern California thoroughbred and fair racing dates for the years 2014 and 2015, and because of the announced closure of Hollywood Park at the end of this year, those racing calendars will differ markedly from decades past. Instead of the traditional spring/summer meeting at Hollywood Park, Santa Anita’s “winter/spring” meet will extend into July. And Del Mar will host a new fall meet that will start in October or November and run into early December, which will be in addition to its popular summer session.
But as Commissioner Krikorian stated, with concurrence from several other commissioners, these date allocations can be rescinded if the stakeholders do not negotiate in good faith to resolve a number of significant issues that were discussed at length during the meeting (beginning at minute 93:45 on the Webcast archive link on the CHRB Website). Chief among the unresolved issues is finding adequate replacement stabling for between 1,100 and 1,200 horses that typically remain at Hollywood Park when other meets are running. While Santa Anita, Del Mar, and certain farms can absorb some of the displacement, an estimated 900 to 1,000 stalls will be needed elsewhere. The choices for stabling and training in the short term are between San Luis Rey Downs training center in Bonsall, Fairplex Park in Pomona, and Los Alamitos Race Course. For the long term, there is talk of establishing a fund for the creation of a new training center.
Every racetrack and group with an interest will send representatives to a meeting next week, joined by CHRB Chairman Israel, to work out final resolutions for stabling, training, and vanning.
Additional issues mentioned as conditions for date allocations include long-promised improvements to the stable area at Santa Anita and continuation of an agreement between TVG and HRTV allowing both horse racing networks to show races at all racetracks in the state. In this context, there were additional discussions about maintaining safe and quality surfaces. One suggestion was for Santa Anita to arrange for a full-time, on-site track manager. And Commissioner Krikorian asked Del Mar representatives to consider going back to a dirt track. He also raised the issue of reducing the 20-mile-radius restriction on new satellite wagering locations – a matter that will be addressed by the Pari-Mutuel Operations Committee at a June 19 meeting.
As conditionally approved, the 2014 Southern California racing calendar will begin as usual on December 26, 2013, at Santa Anita Park, extending through July 6, followed by date allocations to Del Mar (July 16 through September 3), Fairplex (September 4 -23), Santa Anita (September 25 through November 2), and concluding with Del Mar (November 5 through December 7). Similarly, the 2015 allocations begin December 26, 2014, at Santa Anita through July 5, followed by Del Mar (July 15 through September 7), Fairplex (September 10-25), Santa Anita (September 26 through October 25), and finally Del Mar (October 28 through December 6). These are blocks of allocated dates, not actual starting and ending dates for individual race meets, which will be determined when each racing association and fair submits its license application.
- The Board approved for 15-day public notice the modified texts of regulations that meet concerns expressed by the Office of Administrative Law in a March 23 letter disapproving the proposed exchange wagering regulations. The Board will conduct a public hearing on this matter June 20 and could give final approval to the regulations at that time, again subject to OAL review. Even after the regulations are in place, exchange wagering could not begin in California until an agreement is reached between an exchange wagering company, a racing association or fair, and horsemen, and approved by the Board.
- The Board approved the license application for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to conduct a race meet from July 17 through September 4. Racing will be conducted five days per week, Wednesday through Sunday, and on Labor Day, Monday, September 2. First post will be at 2 p.m. except on Fridays (4 p.m.) and Pacific Classic Day, Sunday, August 25 (1 p.m.)
- The Board approved the license application for the Sonoma County Fair to operate a race meet in Santa Rosa from July 24 through August 11. Sonoma has withdrawn, for now, from the California Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF), so Sonoma will be responsible for providing its own management services.
- The Board authorized a one-time use in a horse race of a newly developed camera, smaller than a dime, infused into a pair of glasses to be worn by jockey Russell Baze in order to provide his view of the race as it unfolds. The digital recording of the race from his perspective will be posted on the New York Times Website to accompany a feature article on the Hall of Fame rider. The Board determined that the camera glasses can be safely worn in the race without danger to Baze and the other participants.
- The Board authorized Northern California Off-Track Wagering Inc. (NOTWINC) to continue the modification of the distribution of market access fees from Advance Deposit Wagering. This modification does not affect payouts on winning tickets.
- The Board approved 2013-14 fiscal year contracts for the services of stewards ($2,182,000) and official veterinarians ($548,000) as well as the University of California at Davis ($2,613,780) for equine drug testing, the equine medical director, and the postmortem program.
- Commissioner Derek, who chairs the Medication and Track Safety Committee, and Vice Chairman Winner, who also serves on that committee, reported on their previous day’s meeting at UC Davis. Most significantly, they reported discussions of :
– a regulatory change that will help the CHRB take a step toward national uniformity in medication, including the establishment of thresholds for permitted medications in blood samples. This matter should come before the full Board later this year.
– a regulation to prohibit a horse from starting in a race that has received an intra-articular injection of cortisone within seven days of a race. The goal would be to have the prohibition in place approximately one year from now.
– improving backside security, perhaps by increasing the number of qualified security personnel. Executive Director Kirk Breed will be getting a group together led by Chief Investigator Bill Westermann to fully explore this issue.
– better preventing injuries among jockeys and exercise riders while reducing the expense of workers’ compensation claims paid by the racing industry.