The California Horse Racing Board put its stamp on the racing industry's plan for stabling Thoroughbreds in the immediate post-Betfair Hollywood Park era during its meeting Oct. 24.
Following a lengthy discussion of the plan by commissioners and two votes during the meeting at Santa Anita Park, the board unanimously reaffirmed an industry dates request for 2014-15 that it had initially approved last month. The revised auxiliary stabling and vanning plan was a condition placed on the approval of a new racing calendar by the board once Hollywood Park closes its backside, expected on or about Feb. 1, 2014.
Representatives of the four remaining tracks involved and the Thoroughbred Owners of California submitted the stabling plan to the board as a "confidential document" that, according to CHRB counsel Robert Miller, protected it from full disclosure under the state's Public Records Act. CHRB staff provided an analysis of the signed agreement instead.
Scott Daruty, representing The Stronach Group, owner of Santa Anita, said the move was necessary to protect certain "business arrangements" by the participants from disclosure.
Commissioners George Krikorian and Richard Rosenberg expressed displeasure with being unable to discuss details of those agreements, saying the public had a right to know.
"I don't believe any agreement between stakeholders is outside the consideration of this board," Rosenberg said.
The board, apparently confused by chairman David Israel's motion to approve the new calendar, voted 3-3 with Rosenberg, Krikorian, and Steve Beneto opposed. But after some additional discussion, the three dissenters switched their votes.
Israel, during the follow-up discussion, explained that the board did not have the power to approve or reject the stabling plan, and that his motion was not to approve the arrangement. Instead, he said, his motion was to confirm the board's earlier approval of the dates request. With that understanding, the board re-voted, this time 6-0 in favor.
The industry believes the Southern California racing circuit will need stabling for up to 3,000 Throughbreds at peak periods. Because of the fluctuating nature of the circuit, tracks will be used at varying levels during the year.
Under the deal as outlined by CHRB staff, Santa Anita will provide year-round stabling for 1,900 horses except during the Del Mar summer meet when the circuit moves south. Santa Anita's neighbor, Barretts Sales & Racing (Fairplex Park), will be able to stable 500 horses from Feb. 1 to June 30. In addition, The Stronach Group's San Luis Rey Downs, a training facility in northern San Diego County, will provide stabling of at least 495 horses, with another 300 possible stalls subject to regional approval to construct new barns.
Los Alamitos can stable 500 Thoroughbreds initially in addition to its Quarter Horse population, and expects to house an additional 200 Thoroughbreds after June 30 following construction of additional barns.
One stipulation requires that any stabling facility that is below 50% occupancy for an extended period of time may have its reimbursement reduced or revoked by the Stabling and Vanning Committee. In addition, the three tracks that have received additional racing dates as a result of Hollywood Park's closure—Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos—will contribute unspecified shares to an industry fund that will eventually be used to fill long-term stabling needs.
A final stipulation requires that The Stronach Group continue its current agreement with TVG allowing both its racing network, HRTV, and TVG to televise all Thoroughbred meets in the state through the end of 2013. Dual telecasts beginning with the 2014 racing season will be dependent on successful negotiations of new terms, according to the CHRB staff analysis.
At its meeting last month, the commission gave approval to a race dates calendar for the next two years, including five weeks of newly added daytime Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos, which races Quarter Horses at night.
Elsewhere, the board deferred action on the Northern California racing dates for 2014-15 as stakeholders continued to struggle with the summer fair schedule. It will be taken up once again at the Nov. 21 meeting at Hollywood Park.
The board agreed to suspend authorization for the use of the anabolic steroid stanozolol in horses in training for a period of 12 months beginning Dec. 26. Once widely used in treating anemia under the brand name Winstrol V, its presence in the state's racing has been curtailed since threshold levels were drastically reduced when the CHRB began regulating anabolic steroid use in 2008.
The suspension of a urinary threshold for stanozolol will bring California into line with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Racing Commissioners International model rules.
The board also gave approval to a new mini-satellite location, the Ocean's Eleven Casino, a card club in Oceanside in northern San Diego County.
Exercise riders will now be required to undergo a yearly physical examination prior to the racing meeting of the year in which they wish to participate, under an action also passed by the board.
Bob Elliston, chief operating officer for the Breeders' Cup, told the board the scheduled Arabian race on the Nov. 1 program will go as the final event on the card at Santa Anita, following the $2 million Distaff. He said the race will not be part of the Pick 5 or Pick 6 wagers.
"We've had 13 horses nominated, we expect 12 to enter," he said. "One will be foreign, the rest domestic. It will be the 11th race, after the Distaff. We're excited about the reception it has received both here and internationally."