Thank you for all the positive comments about our blogs. As California gets set for the first major schedule change in 50 years, we've been hit with many questions from clients and friends. We decided to post these questions and answer them as best we can.
"What's the latest with 2014 California racing schedule?"
Right now, it looks like Santa Anita from the day after Christmas through June 15th. Traditional Del Mar, Fairplex and Santa Anita Fall meets would remain the same. Del Mar Fall will take all of November. The June and December gaps are TBD. Golden Gate may get a turf festival week of races. Fairplex may get a "fair-type" meet. Santa Anita may take all dates until Del Mar.
"The new schedule seems appealing. Why is everyone acting as if
Armageddon is near?"
We agree. A longer Santa Anita plus two Del Mar's equals one exceptional racing calendar.
"Is Hollywood Park really closing? Like really, really closing this time?"
8/5 they close in 2013. 9/5 they ask for one more year. Growing up, we played hookie from school to attend races at Hollywood Park. It was our first true love. But let's face it, they just don't want to be here any more. Little marketing and zero enthusiasm is not a recipe for re-invigorating the sport. We can do better. We all know it's time to break up with Hollywood Park... so we're not sure why we're waiting for Hollywood to break up with us.
"Wouldn't it be better if Del Mar stayed open year round for training?"
We believe if Del Mar took a third meet and stayed open for training year round it would be the game changer this industry has been looking for. With two of the best, most marketable tracks in the entire country hosting year-round racing, we will attract owners, trainers, horses and jockeys from all over the world. Obviously, this effect will snowball into bigger fields, more handle and higher purses. The two tracks would probably become the permanent home to the Breeders' Cup. We're very happy with the new schedule, but we can't help think how close we are to really moving the needle.
"Where will the horses train, other than Santa Anita"
It looks like Santa Anita will remain the primary training facility, with Fairplex and San Luis Rey picking up the slack. We realize this has produced some unhappy campers from the California Thoroughbred Trainers. To that we say, the Hollywood Park closing is not some great conspiracy to displace trainers. California trainers take in $250,000 a day in daily fees. That's nearly $100 million a year. What is available is fairly attractive, from a horse standpoint, but if trainers feel there are better options, I hope they will help support it financially.
"Is it a concern that all of our eggs will be in Santa Anita's basket?"
It looks like Santa Anita will begin a sizable renovation. The Stronach Group has been one of the only entities to push investment into California racing - and for that we should support it back with more race dates. That being said, we're hoping when the CHRB officially assigns new dates to Santa Anita, the consideration will be a contractual easement locking the land to racing for 20 years. If they need a good attorney, we will pass along the name of the guy who drew up the iron clad Hollywood Park casino lease (it stays regardless of development).
"What happened to Mike Pegram and Doc Allred teaming up to rebuild Los Al?"
An Orange County racing and training facility would fill in the gaps nicely. Rumor has it political pressure forced Pegram to back off. Something about how his TOC Chairman position gave him an unfair advantage to secure racing dates. With no known entities (other than Stronach) vying to build a second race track we've been asking ourselves - - unfair advantage over who? No one else wants it. We like the Los Al idea so maybe the same people who kicked a decent (and only?) proposal to the curb should let the secret out that millions and millions of free money awaits someone else willing to build a race track.
"How do you feel the TOC has handled the situation?"
The TOC has been lambasted lately and we don't know why. We owe a debt of gratitude and thanks here. The TOC didn't sell Hollywood to developers nor are they responsible for buying a second track or training facility (they tried that, see Santa Anita 2010). Purses are up; players haven't deserted; and the 2014 racing schedule looks terrific. Regulating is difficult. It takes consensus building, patience and lots of guts to be on the front lines of battle. Kudos to the fine men and women who are working hard to direct this ship into the next generation.
Do you have any further or additional questions? Please let us know!