Santa Anita

Santa Anita

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CTBA to Work With Santa Anita to Keep Cal Cup

Breeders' organization wants to preserve program for California-sired horses.

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association plans to work with Santa Anita Park and the state's horsemen to ensure that the California Cup program continues this year, the organization's general manager said.

California Cup, a one-day series of races for state-sired horses, has been scaled back in the past few years and may undergo further changes if it resumes in 2011, officials have said.

"We believe we can jointly come to an agreement to hold such an important day of racing for the California breeding program," said Doug Burge, the CTBA's executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement Feb. 18.

Conceived in 1990, Cal Cup has been run as part of the Oak Tree Racing Association's schedule. The California Horse Racing Board, by a 6-0 vote, transferred the traditional autumn Oak Tree dates to Santa Anita for 2011 during its Feb. 17 meeting. The six-week meet will run from Sept. 28 to Nov. 6 this year.

The Oak Tree season had been held at Santa Anita since 1969 until last year, when Oak Tree was forced to move to Hollywood Park after horsemen objected to the condition of Santa Anita's synthetic track. The track has been replaced by a traditional dirt surface.

During the CHRB meeting, Santa Anita executive Scott Daruty expressed some reservation about Cal Cup.

He told the board that in recent years, California Cup "has not been successful from a financial standpoint. We'd be interested in discussing ways to hold the event. If we can work with the industry, work with the breeders and the (Thoroughbred Owners of California) to make a Cal Cup day that makes econmic sense, we'd be in favor of that."

Faced with declines in wagering and attendance in recent years, Cal Cup has reduced the number of races and some purses. The Cal Cup Classic, for instance, was worth $250,000 from 1990 to 2008, but dropped to $200,000 in 2009 and $150,000 last year. The 2010 program featured seven stakes worth nearly $1 million.