The California Horse Racing Board Sept. 19 approved the license for what will be the final live meet at Hollywood Park, and also signed off on Thoroughbred race meets at Los Alamitos in 2014 and 2015.
The fall meet at Hollywood Park runs Nov. 7-Dec. 22, with live racing four days a week. Stabling and training will continue through at least January 2014; the property is slated for development thereafter, though simulcasts will continue to be offered—under the direction of the racing association—at a card casino located on the property.
"It's going to be a little difficult, if that's the word for it," Hollywood Park vice president and general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. said. "Our challenge this meet is to make this a fun event. We're going to do our best to present the best racing we possibly can and leave Dec. 22 with a good feeling about the race meet."
Officials at the Inglewood racetrack said there has been increased interest in the upcoming meet, probably because it's the final one; bookings for groups are double what they were last fall. Hollywood Park also plans a "farewell gala" for its final weekend of racing and will schedule many giveaways during the meet.
The session is scheduled for 27 days this year versus 24 last fall. Hollywood Park officials said average daily purses of $425,691 for the 2012 meet but are projected to increase to $441,290 for the upcoming meet.
Los Alamitos, meanwhile, was approved for Thoroughbred dates in 2014 and 2015. The track currently hosts year-round Quarter Horse racing and limited Thoroughbred racing for $5,000 claimers.
Los Alamitos consultant Brad McKinzie told the CHRB the five-eighths-mile track will be expanded to one mile with a homestretch longer than that of Churchill Downs. There will be year-round stabling for 700 Thoroughbreds as part of a broader stabling for Southern California given the impending closure of Hollywood Park.
Los Alamitos plans to race Thursday through Sunday afternoons and maintain its night Quarter Horse program Fridays through Sundays.
"We're not just excited for ourselves but for the entire racing industry," McKinzie said. "It's an opportunity for all of us to expose the sport to an entirely new market. This is a way to generate fans."
McKinzie said the Orange County market "screams potential." He said Los Alamitos last year was the largest satellite wagering facility in the state with $104 million in handle on simulcast races; he said the track produced about $6.3 million in Thoroughbred purses for the industry.
The Los Alamitos Racing Association will contract with the Thoroughbred Owners of California for the Thoroughbred meets.