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Posted 2024-01-25 16:43:06  
NORTHERN California racing could continue after impending closure

The future of Thoroughbred racing in Northern California hangs in the balance over the next 60 days.

With the impending closure of Golden Gate Fields in June, a collective effort from owners, breeders, and trainers is underway to initiate a race meeting in late September. The potential venues for this replacement event are the Cal-Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento or the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton.

The primary objective is to ensure continuity for the sport in this region after the conclusion of the summertime county fair meetings at Pleasanton, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and Ferndale.

Time is of the essence, with the California Horse Racing Board slated to convene in late March. The board is expected to address the issue of racing dates for the final months of 2024 during this meeting.

The group orchestrating the replacement meeting aims to present detailed plans to the racing board at that time, offering assurance to participants in the Northern California circuit that racing will persist.

On Friday, members of the group will engage with the board of directors of Cal-Expo to explore the possibility of hosting a race meeting at that venue. Discussions are anticipated to cover adjustments to the property to accommodate Thoroughbred racing, as well as the continuation of harness racing for two annual meetings on a yet-to-be-constructed track with a circumference of seven-eighths of a mile on the infield of the existing one-mile track.

According to the proposed plan, the infield track would host harness racing, while Thoroughbred racing would take place on the one-mile track. This concept was introduced at a California Horse Racing Board meeting in Sacramento on Jan. 18 but faced skepticism from some board members who raised concerns about financing, environmental regulations, and construction issues needed to complete the project in eight months.

Larry Swartzlander, president of the California Association of Racing Fairs, suggested during the meeting that racing at Pleasanton remains a viable alternative.

Finalizing a plan for the last months of 2024 is crucial not only for racing but also for the upcoming breeding season, emphasized Justin Oldfield, an owner and breeder who chairs the working group.

There are indications that a revised schedule could potentially commence at Pleasanton later this year, with Sacramento remaining a viable long-term option, as per Oldfield's statement. 

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