Oak Tree Racing Association received license approval Sept. 10 to move its 2010 meet to Hollywood Park.
The California Horse Racing Board approved the revised license for a 22-day Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park on a 5-0 vote with one abstention. The original meet application called for 26 days at Santa Anita Park, but the CHRB rejected the application Aug. 19 because of concerns over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita.
Oak Tree plans six evening programs—three Thursdays and three Fridays. Officials said the idea is to develop the fan base and attempt to attract a younger audience.
Horsemen’s groups signed off on the schedule. The meet begins the evening of Sept. 30, a Thursday. Racing will be held four or five days a week.
“We have to take into consideration how important it is to regenerate the fan base,” Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau said.
CHRB members expressed concern over the expanded night racing plan given the short notice and potential impact on Golden Gate Fields, the Northern California track that will be racing in the afternoon. Commissioner John Harris, who abstained on the license vote, said he wants to see projections on revenue so they can be reviewed after the meet.
“I think it really hurts us,” Golden Gate Fields general manager Robert Hartmann said. “It’s critical to have a complementary Southern California signal when we’re running live. But if it’s good for the rest of the state, we have no choice.”
Liebau said any decline in California handle would be offset by an increase in advance deposit wagering. “The ADW makes a great difference running at night,” Liebau said.
Oak Tree senior vice president Sherwood Chillingworth said overnight purses for the meet will be increased and perhaps overpaid by $500,000 at the end of the meet.
Oak Tree and Hollywood Park also will begin selling an expanded program geared toward a younger demographic and regulars that no longer purchase Daily Racing Form. The program will have some past performances, a wagering calculator, and other features, officials said.