Representatives from Golden Gate Fields updated the committee on the installation of their synthetic surface, which is most likely to take place at the conclusion of the track's main season next June. "We'll be moving 1,300-plus horses out of the stable area," Golden Gate Fields' general manager Robert Hartman explained. "Moving those horses to the fairs only helps the fairs, and we expect it'll be a smooth transition. It will also be the first time in over 20 years that Golden Gate Fields will have an empty barn area, so we'll be able to make the improvements (to the backstretch)."Additionally, Golden Gate Fields has requested a meeting of 100 continuously run racing dates, which received criticism from the Thoroughbred Owners of California. Bay Meadows and Golden Gate have traditionally raced split seasons in the winter and spring months for decades."A split meeting is better for horsemen, which the TOC supports," said Tom Bachman, TOC vice chairman. "Year-round racing is difficult on a track surface. Also, if the fairs want year-round racing, they should be exploring the possibilities of a synthetic surface as well."Bachman proposed that the state should cut dates in an effort to increase handle and quantity of horses running in the north. "I propose we get rid of Wednesday racing in January and February, which provides two four-day weeks and two-five day weeks during those months. Currently, Golden Gate Fields' schedule provides for two six-say weeks in January and February due to holidays.Breeder and longtime California horseman Don Valpredo cautioned the Board about cutting dates. "If you're going to reshape the tree of horseracing, you have to prune it very carefully," Valpredo said. "There are more ways to deal with the (horse shortage) problem than simply cutting days. We can do that by finding ways to import stables and exchanging signals and open the doors to receive additional sources of income. The bottom line is that, if you don't have horsemen investing in the state, the dates discussion isn't necessary."Jack Liebau, track president at both Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows, echoed Valpredo's sentiment. "Call me naive, but I'm not sure how we're going to improve racing by cutting dates," he said.Liebau also said that, while Hollywood Park has committed to run through 2008, no closing date has been set and track officials have been exploring realistic options of where those prime race dates will be run."If Hollywood Park does close, it will bring to the horizon that racing (in the state) does in fact need help," Liebau said. "I think it was obvious that, when (Hollywood Park) was purchased for the price it was purchased for, it was clear there has to be some additional revenue, and we're hopeful we'll be able to find that to help California racing."Without pinning down about how many years Hollywood Park has left, we need to explore the alternatives. Two have been suggested, Los Alamitos and Fairplex. Of course, the third would be to just run more dates at Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Fairplex."
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