Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of Oak Tree

Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of Oak Tree

Benoit Photo

Oak Tree Hoping to Run a Meet at Pleasanton

The California Horse Racing Board will consider the license application April 25.

The Oak Tree Racing Association is hoping to have a new racing home in Northern California before the end of the month.

The not-for-profit organization is expected to be on the California Horse Racing Board's April 25 agenda seeking a license to serve as the operator of the Pleasanton fair meet at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, which is about 30 miles southeast of Oakland.

Oak Tree previously operated a fall meet at Santa Anita Park from 1969 through 2009. Santa Anita ended that lease relationship, forcing Oak Tree to run its last meet in 2010 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

"We have passed the legislation we needed and have agreements with the Alameda County Fair and CARF (California Authority of Racing Fairs)," said Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of Oak Tree. "Getting license approval by the CHRB is the final step. We are looking forward to being back in the industry as an operator running a meet."

Oak Tree is known for its charitable contributions. In its nearly 45 years of existence, it has given out more than $26 million to various organizations that improve the industry, such as the American Horse Council; the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), which supports and raises awareness of the needs to provide retirement and retraining services for ex-racehorses; Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation; and the University of California-Davis, among others. Oak Tree has assisted in the establishment of facilities and programs for backstretch workers as well.

Pleasanton is one of several fair meets managed by CARF. The track's live 2014 meet will be run June 19 through July 9. The racetrack is considered to be the oldest operating racetrack in the country, having opened in 1858, according to CARF.

"The Alameda County Fair board has been extremely helpful," Chillingworth said. "Both the county fair and CARF will supply their staffs to run the meet."