Transfer of Santa Anita race dates to Los Alamitos under discussion

Transfer of Santa Anita race dates to Los Alamitos under discussion
Photo: Santa Anita Park

Officials in California are in discussions to transfer the race dates of Santa Anita Park, which suspended racing on March 17 at the direction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health due to coronavirus, to Los Alamitos Race Course in neighboring Orange County.

Los Alamitos has continued to conduct its nightly quarter-horse programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy of moving Santa Anita's race dates to Los Alamitos was revealed in a letter from the Thoroughbred Owners of California sent to its members and posted on the TOC web site. It notes a switch to Los Alamitos couldn't occur before the next meeting of California Horse Racing Board scheduled for April 22.

From the statement:

"There have been discussions with Santa Anita, Los Alamitos and the CHRB regarding the possibility of transferring live racing dates from Santa Anita to Los Alamitos given that Orange County continues to treat both racing and training as an essential activity.  Such a date transfer would require an approval of the CHRB and both Los Alamitos and Orange County.  This process could not occur until at the earliest the next CHRB meeting scheduled for April 22.

The TOC's letter also touched on other subjects pertaining to California racing. Here is the statement in full:

"While the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across America, TOC is working collaboratively with the CHRB, CTT, and the Stronach Group in an effort to get live racing back and horses running in California as soon as possible. While it’s a big challenge, we will continue to fight the fight. In the meantime, to keep our members well informed, we are providing these updates.

Racing Cancelled at Golden Gate Fields

In accordance with an order received Thursday, April 2 from the Alameda County Public Health Officer, Golden Gate Fields has temporarily closed for live racing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While there is no specific time frame for return of racing, stabling and daily training will continue at Golden Gate for the approximately 1000 horses stabled there. 

Update on Racing and Training in Southern California

Santa Anita has made a number of requests to LA County officials in the past few days to rescind the County’s order of March 27, 2020 and allow for the resumption of live racing at Santa Anita.  To date these requests have been met with the generic response that “racing is not deemed an essential activity.” We will continue, along with the Stronach Group, to put pressure on them to get back to the negotiations table.

There have been discussions with Santa Anita, Los Alamitos and the CHRB regarding the possibility of transferring live racing dates from Santa Anita to Los Alamitos given that Orange County continues to treat both racing and training as an essential activity.  Such a date transfer would require an approval of the CHRB and both Los Alamitos and Orange County.  This process could not occur until at the earliest the next CHRB meeting scheduled for April 22.

Stabling and daily training continues at Santa Anita for the approximate 1500 horses currently stabled there.  In addition, the Southern California Stabling and Vanning Committee continues to provide auxiliary training at Los Alamitos and San Luis Rey Downs for an approximate 600 additional horses.

While these situations remain fluid, TOC is working to ensure there are adequate stalls and training opportunities in Northern and Southern California while we wait to resume live racing.  This may ultimately include consolidation of the training facilities in Southern California into one or two locations depending on the length of the racing stoppage and number of horses remaining in training.

Trainer Issues

As regards the day rates paid to trainers by TOC members for horses in active training, we encourage all owners to speak directly with your trainer(s) to reach agreement on what is a fair day rate in the current circumstances.  We also encourage all owners to make sure their trainers are applying for the federal SBA loan/forgiveness assistance as soon as possible; and for help with the application process, trainers can contact the CTT. In addition, depending on their business structure owners may be eligible for loans under the SBA Payroll Protection Program and should check with their tax adviser and bank for specifics.

For owners who are interested in options to transfer your horses from the tracks or auxiliary training facilities to a farm, we have attached a spreadsheet from the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association of farms and contact information. This list was compiled from a survey of farms, and there may be additional farms available. If you have any questions, please contact Doug Burge of the CTBA at [email protected]

CHRB Licensing Offices Closed

In support of the State’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the California Horse Racing Board has closed all CHRB licensing offices until further notice. During this closure, the CHRB will not process in-person license applications and/or renewals. Renewals may be done via email, mail, or phone. Call one of the numbers below for details:

Golden Gate Fields: (510) 559-7437

Los Alamitos: (714) 820-2760
Santa Anita: (626) 574-6348

Cal Expo (916) 263-6000

The issuance of new licenses will not occur until the Licensing Offices are re-opened.  Exceptions to the temporary suspension of issuing licenses will be considered if the license is absolutely necessary for the health and safety of people and/or horses. All requests for exceptions shall be sent to the Chief of Enforcement and Licensing, Shawn Loehr, at [email protected] for review.

Expired licenses should not be accepted at any CHRB regulated facility.  It is the licensee’s responsibility to ensure his or her license is renewed prior to the expiration date.

To date, we have no known cases of COVID-19 at any of our tracks. We believe we have best practices in place and hope it always remains that way. We will continue to update you as new information is available. Stay well.

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