After months of discussion, the racing date calendar for Northern California for 2014 was approved Dec. 12 by the California Horse Racing Board.
In an unusual move, the board approved the dates with a contingency that California State Fair and Exposition, or Cal Expo, receive a three-week block of dates for 2015, though the dates were not specified. Cal Expo, located in Sacramento, will race two weeks in 2014.
The board had hoped to complete the calendar for both years but it became apparent during a prolonged discussion at the meeting held at Santa Anita Park that there were too many objections from participants. Meetings on the 2015 calendar are to resume in January.
An ad hoc committee of the CHRB made up by commissioners Steve Beneto and Jesse Choper recommended the dates that were approved by the board for 2014.
Vice chairman Chuck Winner noted that part of the agreement on 2014 was because the committee postponed the decision on Cal Expo to 2015. "Therefore the two are linked," he said.
The schedule calls for the Pacific Racing Association at Golden Gate Fields to run from Dec. 26, 2013 through June 15, 2104.
Alameda County at Pleasanton kicks off the fair season, running from June 19 to July 6, followed by Cal Expo from July 10-20. Sonoma County Fair at Santa Rosa takes over from July 21 to Aug. 10. Humboldt County Fair at Ferndale will operate from Aug. 13-24, but will run overlapped with Golden Gate, which runs its summer dates from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14. San Joaquin County Fair is scheduled from Sept. 19-28, although its race meet apparently will not coincide with a fair. Fresno County Fair racing is from Oct. 1-13.
Golden Gate Fields will complete the year with a meet commencing Oct. 15 and ending Dec. 20.
The board also asked Golden Gate Fields racing officials to make a good faith effort not to card races with a claiming value of less than $5,000 during the time it is running overlapped with Ferndale.
Attorney Jim Morgan complained to the board that Golden Gate had broken "an agreement" last year that it wouldn't card such races, but did so anyway. Ferndale is concerned about maintaining field size in those low-level claiming races.
Elsewhere, the board elected new officers for 2014. Winner, currently the vice chairman, will take over chairman duties from David Israel, whose board term expires Jan. 6.
"Now that I'm on the other side of the table, maybe you should lower the takeout a little," joked Israel.
The board broke with tradition by naming two vice chairs, Bo Derek and Richard Rosenberg.