CTT Supports Replacing Synthetic Tracks

New board also wants to reunify California horsemen under one organization.

Meeting for the first time Jan. 27, the newly-elected board members of the organization representing California trainers announced its support for replacement of the state's synthetic tracks "with newly designed and composed natural surfaces."

The California Thoroughbred Trainers also announced that its "highest priority" is the "reunification of the state's horsemen under one organization."

The CTT "looks forward to working with the Thoroughbred Owners of California toward this goal," it said in a statement released following the meeting.

Most of the nine-member board was replaced in an election demanded by a faction within the CTT known as the "California Horsemen for Change." The group formed last year in protest against the CTT, which it complained was not representing trainers' views adequately. The group initially sought to decertify the CTT but agreed to back off that position in favor of an election to replace the board members.

The new board elected John Sadler as president of the CTT. Gloria Haley, one of two holdovers from the prior board, and Darrell Vienna were elected as vice presidents.

Ed Halpern, the organization's executive director, had announced his resignation effective Jan. 1, but has agreed to stay on without compensation during the transition period. The board authorized the solicitation of applications for Halpern's replacement and will be publishing a job description, salary and benefits package for the position.

Sadler served as president of the CTT previously. He left when the former board asked him to take a leave of absence in September 2008 after 18 of his horses tested positive for newly-imposed California Horse Racing Board rules on the use of steroids that summer.

The synthetic track issue is one of several the new board wants to tackle. Its position against synthetic tracks, it reported, was the result of membership polling. It comes on the heels of a recent announcement from Santa Anita that because of the track's drainage problems, it intends to replace its Pro-Ride racing surface following the current winter/spring meet. The CHRB mandated synthetic tracks in 2006.

Representatives from the other major Thoroughbred tracks in the stateHollywood Park, Del Mar and Golden Gate Fieldshave expressed satisfaction with the adequacy of their artificial track surfaces.

Following its first meeting, the new board announced it may expand its size. It is also seeking members to serve on a number of CTT committees.