California Horse Track Hollywood Park To Close At End Of Year; Santa Anita To Benefit?
Betfair Hollywood Park in a letter Thursday told the California Horse Racing Board it "won't seek 2014 racing dates and will close at the end of its fall meet Dec. 22," according to Tom LaMarra of BLOODHORSE.com. The facility has been "slated for closure and redevelopment for years," but the project had stalled (BLOODHORSE.com, 5/9). In L.A., Aram Tolegian reports track owner The Stronach Group is "expected to turn it into a real estate and shopping development." Track President Jack Liebau said, "Ownership has been upfront from the beginning that the property would eventually be developed unless there were significant changes in the horse racing business. ... From an economic point of view, the land now simply has a higher and better use." Santa Anita Park "appears to be the big winner because of Thursday's news." The track will now "start the process of assuming Hollywood Park's racing dates." That means Santa Anita's winter meet in '14 could "now last well into summer" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/10). DAILY RACING FORM's Steve Andersen noted Hollywood Park opened in '38 and "hosted two of the first four Breeders’ Cup -- the inaugural running in 1984 and again in 1987." The track hosted the event for a "third and final time" in '97 (DRF.com, 5/9).
DYING BREED: In L.A., Eric Sondheimer writes the "rise of Internet betting, simulcast wagering and changing demographics have put horse racing in Southern California in a precarious position." Both Santa Anita and Del Mar Racetrack are "expected to pick up racing dates with the closure of Hollywood Park." More "challenging will be finding additional stable stalls with the loss of 1,800 stable spots." Liebau said that demolition should begin "soon after Dec. 22." Hollywood Park Casino "will remain." Liebau said that track memorabilia "will be preserved" (L.A. TIMES, 5/10).
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE: In Baltimore, Chris Korman noted Pimlico Race Course Owner Frank Stronach is not "ready to divulge what he'll do" with the track. Stronach said, "We'll make major renovations. We'll spend a lot on Pimlico. The plans are being drawn up now. We're working through that." Stronach's vision includes building a "park-like area around the track to make it feel more like an oasis in the middle of the city." Stronach: "We're sure we can make it work. We're going to put money into it and we feel great that Maryland has put a deal in place that allows us to look to the future" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 5/9).