CHRB Floats Plan for 2001 Dates Reduction

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 would affect the major racetracks and some fairs.

The draft proposal reduces 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.

"It is most difficult to come up with any program that will satisfy all the people, all the time," commissioner John Harris said. "Some would suggest a much more dramatic cutting of racing dates than we propose. The draft proposal tries to address concerns expressed without inflicting undue harm on any one sector."

Commission chairman Robert Tourtelot urged the California horse-racing industry to put individual differences aside and reach accord on a meaningful solution to the disturbing trend of small fields and a decrease in attendance.

The race dates committee will meet July 6 in Sacramento to consider the 2002 racing calendar. The discussion is likely to focus on the committee's draft proposal to cut five days from the Southern California circuit and 14 from the Northern California schedule.

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 or 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 instead of Wednesday at Del Mar.