by Jack Shinar
In a move that removes a potential restriction on the future relocation of the Los Angeles County Fair's racing dates, the fair association announced it has purchased controlling interest of Barretts Equine Ltd., which conducts the top 2-year-olds in-training auction in the state each March.
A Barretts official said the transaction, completed July 12, would not change the company's sales operations.
The LACF, through its limited liability corporation, Fairplex Equine Sales, made the purchase from Fred Sahadi, who founded Barretts Equine Sales in 1990. The Barretts Equine Complex, located on the Fairplex Park grounds, conducts five auctions annually. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Concern about the long-term viability of Barretts was a factor in the California Horse Racing Board's decision last month to deny the LACF's proposed transfer of its 17-day September race meet to Santa Anita Park. The LACF is considering reapplying for the relocation as part of next year's racing calendar.
When confronted with the possibility that the fair association might acquire Barretts, which has a long-term lease with Fairplex, James Henwood, LACF president and chief executive officer, told the CHRB during his testimony June 26 that there is no plan to change, move, or drop the auctions.
In a fair association press release, Henwood said the latest move is an indication of the LACF's "continued commitment to the racing industry."
"We intend to grow the business and look forward to increased industry involvement," Henwood said. "Since its inception, Barretts has served the industry well by offering top quality horses in a superb facility, and that is a tradition we intend to continue."
The purchase of a controlling interest in Barretts gives the LACF flexibility should it eventually move its race meet from Fairplex. Its current agreement with Barretts requires a working racetrack for the 2-year-olds in-training sales in March and May.
Barretts president Gerald McMahon said he is looking forward to Barretts' future at Fairplex. "The fair association has always been supportive of our operations," he said.
The Barretts Equine Complex consists of a sale pavilion, adjacent show rings, and nine barns that offer stabling for more than 500 horses.