A company specializing in surveillance systems reported Thursday to the California Horse Racing Board on the success of an experimental program that included two digital cameras monitoring activities in the stable area at Del Mar last summer.The CHRB has shown interest in surveillance technology for several years and has been encouraging racetracks to install high-tech systems in their stable areas. Commissioners John Harris and Marie Moretti arranged for numerous presentations by companies specializing in camera security systems. In February, Chairman Roger Licht named Commissioners Alan Landsburg and Harris to an ad hoc committee that is considering, among other things, whether to require racetracks to install such systems as a condition of licensure.Nighthawk Security Systems installed the extensive surveillance system for the frontside at Del Mar, which is principally designed to cover public areas for crowd and traffic control. The system was expanded this year to include two cameras in the stable area.Greg Levorchick, vice president of Nighthawk, demonstrated this backstretch surveillance experiment by showing digital replays to those attending the CHRB monthly meeting on Thursday at Arcadia City Hall. From as far as 1,500 feet away, the cameras were able to zoom in and provide vivid close-up pictures of individuals as they walked through shedrows and approached horses in stalls. Levorchick emphasized that digital recordings are "court-admissible evidence."Michael Kilpack, the CHRB supervising investigator who oversaw the experiment at Del Mar, said surveillance cameras would be "one more valuable tool for monitoring activities in the stable areas." Kilpack said he would work with the racetracks to make certain that any surveillance system would meet the specialized requirements of stable area security.Several racing associations already have expressed interest in installing backside surveillance systems, and Commissioner Harris welcomed that interest, indicating he would prefer to see the racetracks install those systems voluntarily.
Following the presentation, Landsburg said, "I think we're looking at the future, and each step we take in this direction brings us greater integrity."In other business, Licht noted that Breeders' Cup Limited went to court and received a writ that restrains jockeys from wearing advertising in Breeders' Cup races Saturday at Santa Anita Park. The CHRB took action earlier this year to prohibit such advertising at all California racetracks on Oct. 25."It is the Board's position that in the event that anyone attempts to violate these prohibitions, strong sanctions will be issued, including the possibility of even scratching the horse," said Licht. "This is being communicated to all of the riders, so hopefully we'll have full compliance."A motion to adopt a regulation allowing for a new wager called "Beat the Odds" failed for lack of a second.