The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Fall horse racing meet to move from Pomona Fairplex to Los Alamitos

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Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County has already added some thoroughbred horse racing dates to its calendar. Now it's about to add even more. 

On Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board unanimously approved a plan to move a horse racing meet that normally happens at Pomona’s Fairplex during the Los Angeles County Fair to Los Alamitos. 

Pomona’s Fairplex has featured horse racing for more than seven decades, but officials say attendance and betting at the horse racing track has declined in recent years.  Los Alamitos executive Brad McKenzie told the state horse racing board that management from both facilities agreed that now’s the right time to move the meet.

"It means more opportunity to present this sport into a new market, and more opportunity for us to have money for further infrastructure," Mckenzie told the board, adding that it will lead to more betting and therfore bigger purses at Los Alamitos. 

Los Alamitos has already spent millions on installing a mile-long track for thoroughbred racing and other upgrades. It’s now famous as the stabling and training home of Triple Crown chaser California Chrome.   But horse breeder Brian Trela, whose wife is a trainer, said the opposite is happening at the horse racing facility at Fairplex.  He sees the movement of the September meet as another sign the facility will shut down horse racing operations as early as November.

"I think that for the near-term profit, it's excellent," Trela told the horse racing board during the public comment period.  "But in the long term, it’s going to hurt the racing industry, and put people like my wife and I out of business."

For small breeders and horse owners like himself, Trela said the closure of the Fairplex facility would be a tough blow at a time when stabling space is tight because of the closure of Hollywood Park.   Fairplex spokesman Michael Chee said no decisions have been made about the long-term future of horse racing operations at the park.   

The first high-level thoroughbred racing meet at Los Alamitos begins on July 3, the result of taking on about five weeks of racing that used to happen at Hollywood Park.

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