NoCal Fair Meets Deal With Thoroughbred Shortage

The Northern California fair meets will offer more than 30 fewer Thoroughbred races this season because of a horse shortage in the state, officials said during the California Horse Racing Board meeting June 1. The board approved the fair meets during the meeting.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who usually tops the standings in Northern California, said he will ship 43 horses to Arlington Park this summer, mainly because there is no turf racing in the region for most of the summer. Jack Liebau, president of Magna Entertainment-owned Bay Meadows, said the San Mateo County Fair meet at Bay Meadows in mid-August will feature one or two turf races per program.

Other reasons for the horse shortage are the high costs of keeping a horse in training, and costs associated with workers' compensation. In a recent Thoroughbred Owners of California survey, more than half the respondents said racing in Northern California is headed in the wrong direction.

Some of the fairs have established a fund to help defray transportation costs for horses that ship to California from out of state.

"We are facing a summer full of question marks," TOC president John Van de Kamp said. "It might get us off the dime to make the difficult readjustments that we need to make."

One plan calls for weekend grass racing at either Bay Meadows or Golden Gate Fields.