CHRB Mandates CTT, Tracks Reach Agreement by October

A controversial meeting of the California Horse Racing Board on September 15 outlined the continuing differences between some of the tracks and racing entities in the state.

The monthly meeting of the board of directors in Sacramento, California, saw officials from Del Mar The 1 / ST Racing that works Santa Anita Park And the golden gate fields, announced that they have not reconciled with the California Thoroughbred Trainers over the race meet agreement. As a result, the CHRB Board did not hear Thursday’s agenda items related to allocating race days for meetings this fall at Golden Gate and Del Mar.

Entities have not come to terms on such agreements over the past three years, leaving CHRB to grant race dates by enforcing the legacy agreements. The commissioners stated that they would no longer do so.

At issue is a coach’s fair actions in the event a track wants to ban him or her from its facilities, as 1/ST Racing did when Hall of Fame coach Jerry Hollendorfer banned competition on its tracks after it had a series of crashes at Santa Anita and Golden Gate early in 2019.

Hollendorfer filed a lawsuit, and in June, the lawsuit was settled. Terms were not disclosed, but speakers during Thursday’s meeting noted that the dispute has proven costly, with CTT CEO Alan Balch saying the ban is “subject to lengthy lawsuits worth up to two years in the millions of dollars.”

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1/ST Racing CEO Craig Fravel said they should suggest a meeting with a coach they plan to rule out and listen to their side before making a later decision. “Then if they disagree with that they will have the opportunity to take it to an independent arbitrator,” he said.

But CTT disagrees with 1/ST Racing and Del Mar’s proposal, believing that it leaves the coach having to prove his or her case. 1/ST Racing, as a private property owner, believes it is within its right to determine who races on its facilities.

“The clips assert that when they bring an accusation against a coach, the coach will have the burden of proof. That turns about 230 years of American jurisprudence on its head,” said attorney Michael Brewer, who represents CTT.

They are limited in some of their investigative powers, Fravel said, because they are unable to subpoena records such as a government agency, for example.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

1/ Craig Fravel, CEO of ST Racing

CTT has reached race meet agreements with other racetracks in the state.

The commissioners made it clear Thursday that the groups have until the next board meeting in October to settle their differences.

“Maybe you can solve it back there in the corner in about 10 minutes,” said chair Dr. Greg Ferraro. “But sooner or later, someone has to pull you up and say, ‘Enough, enough.’ Solve the problem.”

The CHRB Board agreed not to grant any dates in the absence of a signed race meeting agreement, with only Commissioner Dennis Alfieri voting against the proposal.

“We’re simply saying you have a month to go back and then we’ll consider your race money agreement, but if not, we’ll enforce our decision on the issue of burden of proof,” Commissioner Wendy Mitchell said while making a slight adjustment to the move.

After this heated topic, passions erupted among the track representatives about the allocation of race dates. Northern California fairs clashed with Golden Gate during the schedule in the northern part of the state, and Los Alamitos Race Course He and Del Mar had been at odds over who would control the simulcast the week before the start of Del Mar’s summer season. Disagreement was also evident among the commissioners on these issues.

In a compromise, Bahrain’s Human Rights Council passed a proposal to give Del Mar a week in 2023 with the intent of giving Los Alamitos that week or a similar week in 2024. Mitchell objected. At times on Thursday, disagreement was evident in discussions between Mitchell and Jack Libau, the vice president at Los Alamitos.

The meeting became more harmonious in the last hour, with the board of directors passing an amendment to align the state’s apprentice rider’s weight allowances with the International Racing Commissioners Association’s model. It also expanded the required examinations and autopsies to include horses that die or have been euthanized within 72 hours of leaving CHRB-regulated properties. This could apply to a horse that has been taken to a clinic for treatment, Scott Chaney, executive director of the CHRB, said.

Later in the CEO’s report, Chaney noted that betting handling in the state fell 7% during the month of August. This came despite an increase in field size during the successful summer Del Mar racing season in which no horses died while racing over a span of nine weeks. Four horses died while not racing, three from sudden death, which can include heart attacks, and one from injury in a stud accident.

“So there are no dead races which is quite an achievement given that there are 2,000 horses in the stables on their butt,” Chaney said.

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