First Hearing Held on California Dates

In an effort to increase field size, the California Horse Racing Board has proposed a 19-day reduction in the 2001 racing calendar in the state.

The proposal, discussed July 6 in Sacramento by industry representatives, would reduce some of the overlap between the major northern tracks and the fairs, and allocates one new weekend of turf racing at either Bay Meadows or Golden Gate Fields during the middle of the fair circuit.

There were objections to some of the CHRB's suggestions. "It must be a good plan, because nobody likes it," said commissioner John Harris, who serves on the dates committee with chairman Robert Tourtelot.

The current proposal calls for no six-day racing weeks except at Del Mar and some of the fairs; a reduction in overlaps between Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields and the fairs; ending meets on Sundays rather than Mondays; two four-day weeks at Bay Meadows during the Fresno fair; a turf festival at Bay Meadows or Golden Gate July 13-14; no Monday or Tuesday racing at the fairs in August; and a Monday closing day at Del Mar.

The CHRB will field more comments on the plan July 20 at Del Mar. Most of the discussion thus far has centered on Northern California dates -- the California Authority of Racing Fairs and the Western Fairs Association both say overlap with major meets in the region adversely impact the fairs.