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Hollywood Park Decision Due on 2013 Fall Meet

Commitment to approved dates sought by state horse racing board at Jan. 17 meeting.

Betfair Hollywood Park is expected to announce whether it will conduct its fall meet later this year or shut down in preparation for development of the Inglewood property at the Jan. 17 California Horse Racing Board meeting at Santa Anita Park.

At its August meeting the CHRB approved racing dates for the annual late-season stand, to run Nov. 6 to Dec. 22 in 2013, on the condition that Hollywood Park commit to racing by January.

Hollywood Park has been approved for a massive commercial and residential complex on the 238-acre site by the City of Inglewood. But those plans have been on hold since 2009, stalled by a sluggish California economy that has shown signs of rebounding in recent months.

Track president Jack Liebau recently declined to discuss the decision but said there would be an announcement made at the upcoming meeting. Hollywood has already committed to conduct its spring/summer meet, which runs April 24 to July 14. But at the time of the dates discussion, the track was not prepared to commit to the fall, saying it can provide the racing industry with no more than six months advance notice.

Racing officials say privately that they expect Hollywood to continue to race for the rest of 2013.

"We don't have any inside information (on Hollywood's decision)," said Lou Raffetto Jr., president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California when asked if he expected horsemen to be running at Hollywood this fall. "We don't really know what's going to happen.

"But I get a sense that they will be running and there's certainly every hope among horsemen that they will be running," Raffetto added.

He said that while the pending dates decision is important, the crucial issue is how much longer Hollywood will continue to exist.

Should the track be shuttered, the industry would be scrambling to find a workable solution for racing and training. Quarter Horse track Los Alamitos Race Course, in Orange County, and Fairplex Park, in eastern Los Angeles County, have been mentioned as prime alternatives, though both would require expansion of their race courses and backstretch capacity. No plans have yet been released.

"The proverbial clock started ticking about seven, eight years ago. We all know it's getting close to midnight," Raffetto said. "These conversations with Los Alamitos and Fairplex have to happen."

The board meeting is to begin at 9:30 a.m. at Santa Anita's Baldwin Terrace room. Also on the agenda is a proposed license for a new mini-satellite wagering facility at the Tilted Kilt Pub and Restaurant in downtown San Diego, and discussion and possible action on marketing and promotion plans for 2013 from the California Marketing Committee.