Churchill Downs Inc. is eliminating 18 positions at Hollywood Park, including four department heads, in anticipation of completing the Inglewood, Calif., racetrack's sale to Bay Meadows Land Co. The sale is scheduled to close Sept. 23.
Although competition from casinos and the desire to obtain alternative gaming at racetracks generate the most buzz about problems facing North American horse racing, Churchill Downs president and CEO Tom Meeker says there are other issues facing the industry that must be resolved.
Churchill Downs Inc. reported Tuesday that net earnings for the second quarter were $24.2 million or $1.80 per share diluted, compared to $27.7 million or $2.06 per share diluted for the same period in 2004.
Calling Churchill Downs' recent sale of Hollywood Park a "shot across the bow," California state Senator Dean Florez heard industry leaders plea for help in racing's struggle for survival in the Golden State.
Mike Willman has been appointed as director of publicity at Santa Anita Park.
Hollywood Park, saving its best for last, closed its 64-day spring/summer meet Sunday with total common pool wagering of $667,016,796, down less than one-half percent from the figure of $679,693,206 during a 65-day meet a ago. The daily average was $10.42 million, compared to $10.45 million in 2004.
Pete Pedersen, the senior steward at Hollywood Park, will officiate for the final time on Sunday before calling it a career at age 85.
Saying that California "has forsaken racing and its needs," the president of Churchill Downs Inc. announced July 6 that the company has sold historic Hollywood Park to Bay Meadows Land Company for $260 million.
Unbeaten River's Prayer, a 3 1/2-length winner of the June 4 Cinderella Stakes as the odds-on favorite, figures to draw heavy support again on Saturday when facing eight rival 2-year-old fillies in Hollywood Park's $100,000 Landaluce Stakes at six furlongs.
Dogwood Stable's millionaire Limehouse, winner of the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II), will run next in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 9, going 1 1/4 miles at Hollywood Park.
Officials maintained a taut no-comment stance on reports that Churchill Downs Inc. is close to a deal with the owner of Bay Meadows for the sale of Hollywood Park, but a spokesman for California's major trainers' organization expressed comfort in the news.
The owner of Bay Meadows race track in San Mateo has emerged as the leading candidate to acquire Hollywood Park with a bid of about $275 million, according to a report in the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Retired trainer Farrell W. Jones, eighth in career victories at Hollywood Park with 479, visited the track for the first time in 25 years Sunday.
Fourteen 3-year-old fillies from around the world were extended invitations Sunday for the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) on July 3.
Fusaichi Samurai, once considered a leading prospect for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), is scheduled to return to competition Saturday at Hollywood Park in California.
Twenty-six of the nation's top college journalism students will participate in the third annual Los Angeles Times Sports Journalism Workshop, scheduled Thursday through Saturday at Times Mirror Square and Hollywood Park.
Churchill Downs Inc. posted revenue gains for the opening quarter of 2005 thanks to the addition of 61 racing dates at the newly acquired Fair Grounds, but higher corporate expenses resulted in a net loss of $13.9 million, the company reported May 10.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela will undergo knee surgery in the next couple of days and is expected to be out of action some four to eight weeks.
More than six decades after Hollywood Park opened, its future as a racing venue has become less than certain.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - Conglomerate ownership was designed to bring economies of scale to the racetrack segment of the industry. Statistical evidence, along with unconfirmed reports that Hollywood Park may be sold to developers, suggests it hasn't worked very well in Southern California.
Ed Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos Race Course, has reportedly backed out of a plan that could have brought Thoroughbred racing to his Quarter Horse facility in the event Hollywood Park were to be sold to development interests.
The California Horse Racing Board filed complaints Monday against Martin J. Wygod, the owner of Sweet Catomine, and a racehorse transport driver after determining the champion filly was falsely identified to the stable gate guard as a "pony" when she left Santa Anita at 3 a.m. April 4 for special medical treatment and again when she returned to the stable area the following night.
Tim Barden, Hollywood Park's management liaison since 2000, has been promoted to assistant general manager of the Los Angeles-area racetrack, general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. announced on behalf of Hollywood Park and parent company Churchill Downs Inc.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - The good old days? They weren't that long ago for horse racing fans in Southern California.
With the future of Hollywood Park in doubt, prominent Thoroughbred owner Mike Pegram and Los Alamitos Race Course owner Dr. Edward C. Allred unveiled a $40 million plan March 17 to expand and upgrade the Quarter Horse facility in order to fill an expected void in the Southern California market.
Churchill Downs Inc. officials discussed the company's financial picture, alternative gaming initiatives, and the industry's tote system during a March 17 teleconference but shed little light on their intentions for Hollywood Park, the Southern California racetrack that is the subject of sale rumors.
Earnings for Churchill Downs Inc. in 2004 and for the fourth quarter were negatively impacted by several one-time expenses, including supporting alternative gaming initiatives, a "non-cash impairment charge" at Ellis Park, and an unrealized loss related to a note, the company reported Wednesday.
The Thoroughbred Owners of California, faced with the possibility of losing a major racetrack partner, has been discussing its options for the future given ongoing rumors Hollywood Park may be sold and no longer offer horse racing.
The Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), one of the nation's premier races since Seabiscuit won the inaugural running in 1938, will be returned to its handicap status for the 66th running on July 9.
Hollywood Park President Rick Baedeker blamed the explosion of the California Indian casino industry for the ongoing drop in attendance and handle during the Inglewood track's 2004 autumn meeting, which ended Dec. 20.
Jockey Rene Douglas, who returned to Southern California in September after a seven-year absence, found special gratification in his banner autumn meet at Hollywood Park.
Sunny Hollywood Park won't be using its turf course for the remainder of the meet after jockeys Sunday said it was unsafe for the second straight day.
AmericaTab followed the success of its first Players' Pool on the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 with its second hit in a month. Bettors had one winning pick six ticket and 28 consolation tickets Nov. 28 at Hollywood Park.
Blackdoun and Special Ring failed to handle a yielding turf course in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, finishing seventh and thirteenth, respectively, but the race took so little out of them they could both return later this month at Hollywood Park.
Irish trainer Dermot Weld, who shipped Dress to Thrill to California to win the Matriarch (gr. IT) in 2002, plans to try his luck again with three horses in the Turf Festival at Hollywood Park.
Nearly six months after it began the process of assigning dates for the 2005 Southern California racing season, the California Horse Racing Board approved a schedule Oct. 5 that's nearly identical to the proposal it started with.
Adoration, who was getting ready to defend her Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) title at Lone Star Park Oct. 30, will instead be retired after injuring a front ankle.
What is it that racing fans might not be opening the day after Christmas in 2005? Santa Anita -- if a proposal from the track's president is eventually accepted by the California Horse Racing Board.
Hollywood Park closed its 65th spring/summer meet July 18 with total common pool wagering of $679,693,206, down 1.2% from last year's figure.
The California attorney general's office has postponed indefinitely Thursday's scheduled formal hearing by Hollywood Park stewards concerning the summary suspension of jockey Pat Valenzuela, which went into effect July 2.
Bob Benoit, who has been associated with Hollywood Park for 51 years, has been named the inaugural winner of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award.
Laffit Pincay Jr. will visit Hollywood Park to make the presentation of the inaugural Laffit Pincay Jr. Award, which will be presented annually on Hollywood Gold Cup Day to a person who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.
Hollywood Park stewards will conduct a formal hearing concerning the summary suspension of jockey Pat Valenzuela on Thurs., July 15, at Hollywood Park, the California Horse Racing Board announced.
The $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), from Hollywood Park will highlight Saturday's "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships Powered by Dodge" on ESPN2, airing between 8-9 p.m. Also on tap is same day coverage of the $300,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) and a recap of the six-race Summit of Speed from Calder Race Course in Miami.
The stewards at Hollywood Park summarily suspended jockey Patrick Valenzuela Friday until they can conduct a formal hearing after the jockey failed to provide samples of his hair for drug testing as required under terms of his conditional licensing agreement with the California Horse Racing Board.
Churchill Downs Inc. has revised its earnings estimates for the second quarter and current fiscal year, primarily as a result of costs associated with the company's efforts to seek legalized alternative gaming in California and Florida and its proposed acquisition of Fair Grounds in Louisiana.
Hollywood Park, site of Laffit Pincay Jr.'s record victory No. 8,834, has named an award in honor of the Hall of Fame jockey, who retired with a record 9,530 victories in 2003.
The first "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships on TVG/Fox Sports Net" show of the season will air Saturday from Hollywood Park in Los Angeles.
"NTRA Super Saturday," five shows of horse racing coverage airing on ABC and ESPN, will make its debut Saturday on ESPN with a two-hour telecast (4:00-6:00 p.m. ET) featuring five graded stakes from four different race tracks with reporters stationed at each venue.
Hollywood Park will issue the first 10,000 patrons a free $2 win ticket on Smarty Jones on Saturday as he bids to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
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