Upbeat Outlook For Pleasanton As NorCal Hub Shifts Away From Closing Golden Gate

As California begins transitioning the hub of the state's Northern circuit from the permanently closing Golden Gate Fields (June 9) to Pleasanton (June 12-July 9 and Oct. 16-Dec. 25, with other county fair meets running in between), the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) on Thursday greenlit the first meet in the expanded NorCal schedule after hearing an optimistic update from Larry Swartzlander, the executive director for the California Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF). "What I'm really enthused about is the fact that we have 1,150 stall applications, which is 200...

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Northern CA Advisory Committee Formally Recognized By CARF

The California Authority of Racing Fairs has formally recognized a group of owners, breeders and trainers in Northern California to serve as an advisory committee for the upcoming Pleasanton race meet. According to a press release, the committee has been informally in place since the announcement of the closure of Golden Gate Fields. The group will work with representatives in the industry to "address challenges and opportunities in real time and ensure that future CARF decisions have the collective support of the industry stakeholders." "Our Advisory Committee has the experience...

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Following CHRB Race Dates Decision, What's Next For California?

The way California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) chair Greg Ferraro describes it, the now infamous letter in which 1/ST Racing and Gaming appeared to threaten the sale of Santa Anita should the board grant the North its desired 2024 race dates was "a very big mistake" on their part--one that helped sway the board's unanimous decision to side with interests in the Northern half of the state. "It really put a bad taste in the mouths of board members," Ferraro said. Beforehand, Ferraro had anticipated punting a decision on the...

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CHRB Unanimously Approves Plan to Make Pleasanton New Center of NorCal Circuit

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) voted 6-0 on Thursday to approve a dates package for the back half of 2024 that will establish the current fairs-meet-only track at Pleasanton as the new crux of a Northern California circuit. The entire state has been trying to come to grips with the looming June 9 closure of Golden Gate Fields, the lone commercial track in the region, and the Mar. 21 vote by the CHRB was viewed as a NorCal racing lifeline by the estimated 250 supporters in attendance. Those very...

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CARF Issues Statement After 1/ST Ultimatum on NorCal Racing Dates

Ahead of a critical California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting Thursday to decide essentially whether or not to give Northern California stakeholders a fighting chance to build a circuit in the void left by the imminent closure of Golden Gate Fields, 1/ST Racing and Gaming set out their stall Tuesday in a letter to the regulator urging them to decline race dates to the North. In a proposal to the state regulator, the California Association of Racing Fairs (CARF) outlined a 10-week meeting this year that would run from Oct....

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Politically Powerful Law Firm Hired To Issue NorCal PRA Requests

At a make-or-break time for Northern California racing interests as they attempt to build a racing circuit in the void left by Golden Gate Fields's imminent closure, two key players in those efforts have been on the receiving end of public records requests from Benbrook Law Group, a law firm well-known for their involvement in high-profile political campaigns, including the failed effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. Some Northern California stakeholders said they suspected political intimidation was the motive for the request when the balance of the industry's economic power...

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Vocal Two-Circuit Supporters in Cali Come Out Firing in First of Many Expected North/South Skirmishes

The precarious, up-in-the-air future of California racing and whether or not the state can continue to support two geographic year-round circuits was made no clearer after Thursday's California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting. The 3 1/2-hour session was dominated by discussion of competing North-versus-South plans that both tried to carve a sustainable path forward while underscoring the dire circumstances that face the industry with the June 9 closure of Golden Gate Fields looming like an unavoidable asteroid. Although the CHRB concluded the meeting--which featured testimony that was at times emotional,...

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Filly Beats the Boys to Become First Stakes Winner for Good Magic

The Doug O'Neill-trained Vegas Magic became the first black-type winner for freshman sire Good Magic (by Curlin) with a late-closing, nail-biting rush to the front in Pleasanton's Everett Nevin S. One of three fillies going up against colts, Vegas Magic bided her time near the back of the field early, content to let others duke it out up front as the fractions clicked by in :22.07 and :45.17. Still well back in sixth at the top of the stretch, Vegas Magic suddenly closed with a vengeance, splitting horses late and...

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