The Beginning of the End for California Racing?

In the wake of Stronach’s bombshell Sunday that it is closing Golden Gate Fields for good this December, the Northern Cal racers are, obviously, in serious handwringing mode. Desperate times. Yesterday, the Thoroughbred Daily News published an interview with California Horse Racing Board Chairman Greg Ferraro. My favorite exchange:

“What do you see when you plot California racing’s future – especially a likely future without Los Alamitos?”

“It’s a concern to us. I mean, Los Alamitos is probably short-lived. If something happened to Doc Allred [Los Al owner], I think that would be the end of Los Alamitos. That leads to Santa Anita and Del Mar. And given the value of Santa Anita’s property and The Stronach Group’s performance so far, you wonder how long Santa Anita could survive. So yes, the CHRB is quite concerned about the continued viability of California racing.”

Maybe we won’t need a referendum after all. But seriously, this is no time to grow complacent. Unrelenting pressure from the activist community is more critical than ever. Let them know we will not rest until that last betting window is shuttered.

If practical, please consider joining protests at Del Mar or Cal Expo (here, here, here).

And here are all upcoming HW events.

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  1. It’s sickening how many young and underdeveloped colts and fillies that these people abuse and brutalize for cheap thrills and a paycheck. They breed horses with bone diseases and run them to death and all of this heinously egregious cruelty to horses and they’re worried about maybe not having a future where they can continue to bring unhealthy horses into the world and then brutalize them to death while calling it a sport. Beyond disgusting!

  2. There is already protesting and letters to the higher ups concerning the closing of GG. Mostly the economic downturn if it is shuttered. The list starts from the farmers who supply hay to back shed and works its way up the ladder. This will probably escalate when they’ve concluded its going to happen.

  3. I’ve been to every race track in both northern and southern California, and let me tell you, the grounds, the landscaping, the atmosphere and the ‘vibe’ are all incredibly beautiful, and [with the exception of Los Alamitos] the afternoon racing meant for a lovely and pleasant day at the races, particularly when the sun is shining, which is most of the time in California..

    Naturally, like most fans of the sport, I was blissfully unaware of the ‘dark underbelly’ [as I call it], that is inherent in horse racing. I would wager a gamble that most, if not all, race-goers have no clue that when a horse is “vanned off”, there’s most likely a 90% chance that the animal is, or soon will be, dead.

    I thought I knew quite a bit about racing, speed figures, breeding, sires, dams, distances, turf, dirt and all the other elements involved in handicapping horse racing. I visited barns from several trainers in both New York and California, and the owners, trainers and jockeys were always the nicest people you can possibly imagine. Turns out that I was almost 100% in the dark about the daily deaths and abuse that goes on in this industry.

    And I attended the races almost every single day!

    Think, then, about how clueless the average, casual or occasional race-goer is, particularly when they may only attend the races a few times a year! It’s highly possible that they can visit the race track several times and NOT see a catastrophic, fatal breakdown!

    I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my days at the races – yes, I did. And do I miss those good times? of course I do. Many times I won money, and sometimes a lot. There were many places to to celebrate your winnings after the races and the atmosphere was always that of one big party. But today, knowing what I know now, I celebrate the closing of any or all of California’s horse racing tracks. In addition to the horror and cruelty that abounds, the racing ‘product’ has been severely diminished there of late. From some of the best racing in the US, it’s now some of the worst. Many of my ex-racing buddies have bemoaned to me as well about the downslide of California racing.

    With the deadly combination of not enough horses, media coverage of the myriad of recent horse deaths, a growing dis-interest in he sport, and a plethora of gambling options, I firmly believe that the demise of racing will snowball. The Stronach people are, first and foremost, business men [and women!] They’re not stupid, and the handwriting on the wall says this is a bad business to be in, that is showing NO signs of growth – quite the opposite. It’s DYING. Watch for them to bail, little by little out of the industry.

    Nobody closes their ‘stores’ when they’re raking in money!

  4. Joe, I grew up with livestock including ponies and horses, but not flat track racing horses. Handling, grooming and riding ponies)horses was like second only to breathing for me, much like I suppose attending the races and handicapping/betting was for you. I have attended a few races in person, but nowhere near what you have and yet in November of 1980, my then husband and I went to Centennial Race Track in Littleton, Colorado. In one race, one horse went down suddenly and never even tried to get up. It was the strangest thing I had seen up to that time after spending the first 28 ish years of my life up to that time having seen plenty of horses and in various types of activities but I had never seen a horse drop dead suddenly for no obvious reason. That was the first time I saw a horse go down for no apparent reason. When they vanned her off the racetrack, all four of her hooves were above the side panels of the trailer so it was obvious that she was dead. You know that live horses don’t ride upside down. There were video replays of all the races run that day EXCEPT THAT ONE where the horse went down. There was no replay of that race, there was no explanation of what had happened to the horse or what caused her death. There was nothing. Everybody was left to wonder what the hell happened.

  5. Having been made aware of what really goes on behind the scenes at the races is one of the main reasons that swore me off betting and handicapping for good

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