In a serious transfer that can change California horse racing, The Stronach Group is slated to announce Monday that it’s going to stop racing at Golden Gate Fields within the Bay Space on the finish of its assembly on Dec. 18.
The transfer is being made to assist prop up racing at Santa Anita by rising area sizes and the potential of including a fourth day of racing again to the Arcadia observe.
It’s unclear what is going to occur to the land that straddles Albany and Berkeley, however one chance is that it might change into both a state park or an open inexperienced house. Different prospects haven’t been dominated out.
“We consider that the long run success of racing will depend on a enterprise mannequin that encourages funding in Southern California, considered one of North America’s premier racing circuits,” stated Belinda Stronach, chief govt and president of The Stronach Group.
“Specializing in Santa Anita Park and San Luis Rey Downs as a state-of-the-art racing and coaching amenities that provide enhanced program high quality, elevated race days, expanded wagering alternatives, and premier hospitality and leisure experiences is important to making sure that California racing can proceed to compete and thrive on a nationwide degree.”
Stronach conceded it is going to be a hardship for a lot of in Northern California, together with some staff who’ve labored on the observe for nearly half-a-century.
“The Stronach Group is dedicated to honoring labor obligations and growing a significant transition plan.” Stronach stated.
The transfer was not met with common reward, particularly from the California Thoroughbred Trainers.
“[Sunday], we discovered with nice dismay, worry, and anxiousness, on behalf of all California trainers and their 1000’s of staff, of the Stronach racing firm’s resolution to discontinue racing at Golden Gate Fields later this yr,” stated Alan F. Balch, govt director of the CTT. “We will solely say that we’d have hoped these accountable for such a choice had taken their very own contractual obligation for equity, inclusion, communication, and honesty, as significantly as we’ve got.
“The ramifications of this Stronach resolution shall be far-reaching and long-lasting. They may embrace, we consider, a terrific many unintended and primarily detrimental penalties for all of racing and thoroughbred breeding all through California and the West, together with in Southern California. We will solely hope that we’re totally fallacious.”
The Thoroughbred House owners of California didn’t know concerning the resolution till Sunday afternoon.
It’s one other blow to the sports activities panorama of Northern California, which has misplaced the Raiders to Las Vegas and baseball’s A’s are proper behind them in relocating to the desert. Northern California has had horse racing since 1934 when Bay Meadows opened. The observe closed in 2008. Golden Gate Fields opened in 1941 and has meets scheduled for Aug. 23-Oct. 3 and Oct. 18-Dec. 19.
Whereas it might appear logical that loads of the Golden Gate horses will transfer south, the California honest circuit, which incorporates Ferndale, Fresno, Pleasanton, Sacramento and Santa Rosa, shall be making a powerful pitch to maintain the horses within the north.
“5 years in the past [when it was rumored Golden Gate was going to be sold], we put collectively a 12-month calendar that can make Sacramento its 12-month base,” stated Larry Swartzlander, govt director of the California Authority of Racing Festivals. “We most likely wouldn’t race in January and February and simply shut down after the vacations however will race the remainder of the yr.”
Swartzlander added that Sacramento has about 1,100 stalls and he believes that Golden Gate had about 1,000 horses.
Of the honest stops, solely Santa Rosa has a turf course however Swartzlander says one is being added to Sacramento.
One impediment for Santa Anita is that not all horses at Golden Gate are of the present high quality to run on the signature observe. Racing would require writing races for cheaper-priced horses. And working in Southern California is a costlier proposition for trainers and house owners who’re working on a shoestring price range.
“Horse racing has its farm system and you’ll’t have large tracks working with out farm methods,” Swartzlander stated. “So not all horses can find yourself working on the identical tracks.”
Golden Gate has come underneath scrutiny from animal-rights activists recently, though it’s unlikely that it performed a task on this resolution. Earlier this month, the Berkeley Metropolis Council proposed an ordinance that will information the utmost variety of hours a horse could possibly be in a stall and mandate a minimal quantity of pasture house. The ordinance was aimed squarely at horse racing and excluded horse rescue and adoption organizations.