Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Is there more to the Fairplex/Los Alamitos deal?

As most people know by now, Fairplex Park in Pomona is going out of the horse-racing meet business.

On Monday, it was announced Fairplex’s dates were moving to Los Alamitos. It was a story Southern California public handicapper Bob Ike (@bobike1) broke 10 days ago on Twitter.

This is now the third set of dates Los Alamitos has picked up for its new one-mile oval, which will feature thoroughbred racing in the daytime and quarterhorses at night. Previously, Los Al picked up two weeks right before Del Mar’s summer meet and three weeks after Del Mar’s new fall meet.

But that might not be the whole story.

The word on the street is that Hollywood Park’s old regime might have something to do with the dates shift from Fairplex to Los Al.

Yes, Fairplex wasn’t the best place, at least for fans of the thoroughbred game. I went once to experience it and never wanted to go back again.

Yes, Fairplex wasn’t willing to upgrade its facilities for just three weeks of racing a year. Understandable? Probably.

However, this is where it might get interesting and the California Horse Racing Board needs to pay attention.

If Hollywood Park is some how involved in this switch of dates and attaches its name to the new meet in any way, shape or form, it may not be good for former employees of the track in Inglewood.

You see Hollywood Park is on the hook for the pensions of the employees it laid off when it closed it doors to live racing. If it continues to run a meet, even at Los Alamitos, it doesn’t have to make those payoffs right now and that’s just not right. The CHRB needs to investigate this and not allow it. Those people who worked at Hollywood Park, and were laid off, are entitled to their money.

Two things bothered me regarding a release from the Thoroughbred Owners of California about the situation.

The release said the two tracks along with other “California horse racing industry leaders,” were in discussions on the dates transfer for several weeks.
Then there was the statement in the release from Los Alamitos.
“Naturally we are excited about the prospect of adding additional dates to our 2014 thoroughbred racing calendar, and we are very appreciative to Fairplex for the opportunity to conduct and manage their race meet here at Los Alamitos,” said Brad McKinzie, who is the Los Alamitos Racing Association’s vice president. “We plan to immediately work with the CHRB and other industry stakeholders to make sure these racing dates are used to add value to the California Thoroughbred racing calendar.”
The words “industry leaders” and “industry stakeholders” seem to throw up a red flag.

I hope Hollywood Park isn’t involved, and I hope the CHRB isn’t involved, either. It should have more compassion to people who gave their lives to the industry for all those years.

The CHRB is not expected to take up the issue before its May meeting.

There also may be some changes to the 2015 Southern California horse racing schedule. If Santa Anita’s new spring/summer meet doesn’t go well, or there are problems with overuse of the turf course, you could see Los Al get more dates in June next year and trade those dates back to Santa Anita in the fall right after Del Mar closes.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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