Del Mar is Latest to Oppose Fairplex Dates Proposal

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has formally opposed the proposed transfer of this year's Fairplex Park meet to Santa Anita Park. The Del Mar board of directors met during a special session May 29 and voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

Del Mar is the third Southern California racing association to oppose the proposal, which will be discussed by the California Horse Racing Board June 6. The Los Angeles County Fair wants to move its 17-day meet to Santa Anita under the operation of Magna Entertainment's Los Angeles Turf Club.

So far, Hollywood Park and Oak Tree Racing Association, which holds its fall meet at Santa Anita after the Fairplex meet, have come out against the plan.

"Del Mar's opposition is based upon a number of unanswered questions, the foremost of which is the potential negative impact of a 17-day Santa Anita meet immediately following the highly successful summer meet at Del Mar," said Robert Strauss, chairman of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. "The Fairplex meet has been historically the only break for many Southern California horses and horsemen and the vast differences between racing at Del Mar and Fairplex have been a significant benefit for both race meets.

"In Del Mar's view, the proposed transfer of dates has serious potential negatives relating to field size, which must be considered judiciously and not in the haste inherent in the request by the Los Angeles County Fair submitted on May 22, 2002. In the opinion of Del Mar's board of directors there is absolutely no justification for considering this issue outside of the normal dates allocation process in light of the fact that the Los Angeles County Fair has indicated that it is prepared to run its dates at Fairplex should the California Horse Racing Board refuse its request."

The statement from Del Mar also said the association is opposed because of significant legal and regulatory issues, including the legality of a sale of fair racing dates to another venue. While there are precedents for fair dates being run at other venues, none of those has involved fairs with racing facilities of their own, the Del Mar board said.