Fairplex: Racing Plans Still Up in the Air

by Jack Shinar

Fairplex Park has had discussions about moving its 17-day Los Angeles County Fair meet to another track in metropolitan Southern California. But Wendy Talarico, communications manager for the fair, said there are no plans to do anything commercially with the racetrack grounds. And, contrary to a published report that the Pomona, Calif., track has an agreement in principle with Hollywood Park, Talarico said no deal has been done.

Talarico said fair officials want to find out if live racing is the best way to go, or if running those dates at another track would be a more successful route.

"We look at every aspect of our business to make sure it's operating at the optimum level of efficiency," Talarico said. "This is part of that. We have had discussions with other tracks, not just Hollywood Park."

She said there is no proposal to enter into a landlord-tenant relationship with another track for the 2002 meet, which is scheduled for Sept. 13-29. Both the Los Angeles County Fair board of directors and the California Horse Racing Board would have to approve any shift in dates.

If a change of venue were to be approved for a race meet that has already been allocated dates, it would be unprecedented in the state, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board said.

Hollywood Park spokesman Mike Mooney said there has been no word of a deal. The CHRB is likewise in the dark.

"We haven't received any indication from anyone that there could be a reallocation of dates," CHRB executive director Roy Wood Jr. said.

Were Hollywood Park to acquire the Fairplex dates, the change in the delicate balance of racing dates among the three major California tracks would be sure to cause a stir.

"I'm not naïve," Wood said. "I know there has been some talk (between Fairplex and others) going on. But there was talk going on like this about Fairplex three, four years ago, and nothing ever came of it. With something of this kind, it's best to just wait and see what comes our way. It doesn't do any good to speculate about what could happen."

Fairplex, which has raced for more than 60 years, would continue to have a simulcasting facility on its property. It is located about 25 miles east from downtown Los Angeles, and about 40 miles from Hollywood Park in Inglewood.