Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.




Racing in the United States seems to be in trouble. Certainly, Mike Repole believes it and it is his reason

 for establishing the Nation Thoroughbred Alliance. Whether he is right or wrong is not the issue here. The

 issue focuses on, “Is California Racing In Trouble”? From recent reports and stories in the LA Times

 something is wrong and the leadership in California Racing is not “playing nice in the sand box.”

The Stronach Group announced last year that they will close Golden Gate Fields  when their meet ends in the end of June. They cited fiscal concern in the operations of that north California track. Remember, they have already closed the other track there, Bay Meadows. This leaves northern California horsemen and fans without racing except for the local Fair meets.

When Golden Gate fields closes in June horsemen wishing to race their horses will have to travel a 6-hour drive, almost 400 mile, to race at Santa Anita. Most are saying they cannot do that. Some fear the level of racing will be so different there and their horses will have little chance of winning. Santa Anita has offered compromises, but none are acceptable to the northerners. Alternatively, the northern horsemen seem to be behind a proposal before the California Horsing Board to add racing days to the fair meet in the north which partially approved this week.


To compound the debate the Stronach Group then announced that Santa Anita Racecourse is in fiscal trouble, as well, and a northern fair meet along with reduction in wagering takeout from their races will exacerbate their problem. They followed that with an announcement that they will explore selling Santa Anita if the northern fair model becomes real. Of course, this was met with hostile accusation of bullying of the California Board by Stronach Group.


The take-away of this article is a peephole view of racing and its ability to work together. When new drug rules surfaced the horseman fought it. When the Jockey Club warned the industry if it didn’t find a way to stop illegal drug use it would, nothing happened. When HISA was proposed the horsemen, and some tracks fought it. This fluff-up in California is just another example how dysfunctional our sport has become. Understandably the stakes for survival of the sport and the people who need it for careers and income are high. The reactions are often irrational. The sport needs to learn better collaboration skills which demands that positions be set aside while sides find their interests in solving a problem. With that it is often found that we all have more interests in common than we realize. Improving our sport can start with this basic step. Lets hope the Californians and the Stronach Group give it a try.