More Dates Sought for MID California Tracks
by Ron Mitchell
Date Posted: 7/28/2010 2:41:27 PM
Last Updated: 7/29/2010 8:33:34 AM

MID would like to run 140 days of racing at Santa Anita.
Photo: Benoitphoto.com

Citing the American concept of free enterprise, the owner of Santa Anita and Golden Gate racetracks is seeking more dates and the right to choose when to conduct live racing.

In a letter to the California Horse Racing Board, MI Developments chairman Frank Stronach cited the current state of racing in California as showing the "present model does not work" in requesting 140 days of live racing at each track.

For 2010, Santa Anita was approved for 83 live racing dates; an additional 26 days of live racing took place at the track during the Oak Tree meet.

While he and MID would like to see changes in current California rules and regulations pertaining to dates and other areas, Stronach said that process would take time and that the industry needs more immediate changes.

"We therefore request that our two California race tracks—Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields—be allowed to each have a minimum of 140 days of racing and must be allowed to run those race days when we think we can get the most customers," Stronach said in the letter to CHRB chairman Keith Brackpool.

Consistent with his "free enterprise" philosophy, Stronach said MID does "not seek any special status and believe that any other track should be able to compete for the same customers. We have no concerns if other tracks have the same arrangement as MI Developments."

"Under normal circumstances, it should make sense to everybody that a businessperson... should be allowed to open his or her factory when they think they can get the most customers," Stronach's letter stated. "They should be allowed to sell or produce products that their customers want. In America, we call this free enterprise and it is this very free enterprise that makes America great."

Stronach also reiterated his previous desire to be permitted to offer large guaranteed jackpots as part of the exotic wagering menu at MID tracks in Calfironia.

"This type of wagering would also be helpful to the horse racing industry as bookmakers who siphon off billions of dollars do not like these wagers, leaving more money in the state of Calfiornia and not in foreign countries. Big jackpots would still be a game of skill, allowing people to use their skills in handicapping.

"If we can come to an arrangement whereby we are permitted to race 140 days per year at each of our two California race tracks and have an exotic wagering platform, we would be willing to invest more money in California horse racing."

MID assumed control of Santa Anita, Golden Gate, and the XpressBet wagering entity in April as part of a court-approved reorganization of its bankrupt subsidiary, Magna Entertainment Corp. State laws governing horseracing require that no entity can own more than one business unless the board waives that restriction "in the best interest" of the sport.

The CHRB has requested MID to submit a comprehensive business plan and had set a July 1 deadline for the track operator to comply with the request. Citing confidentiality issues, MID did not meet the deadline and the CHRB has since extended the waiver for MID to operate the two tracks and XpressBet until Dec. 26, with a Sept. 1 deadline for submission of the business plan.

During the CHRB’s meeting July 22, the regulatory board approved a motion that provides that the document "will be deemed exempt from disclosure under the (California) Public Records Act" and the state’s evidence code.



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