News Column

They're No Longer Off and Running at Hollywood Park

May 10, 2013

Debbie Arrington

Hollywood Park, one of California's oldest and most famous racetracks, will close permanently Dec. 22.

Thursday, track owner Hollywood Park Land Co., informed the California Horse Racing Board in Sacramento that it won't seek 2014 racing dates and will shutter the Inglewood facility at the close of its winter meeting.

Track president Jack Liebau informed the CHRB by letter.

"When Hollywood Park was purchased in 2005 from Churchill Downs Inc., (Hollywood Park Land Co.) stated that racing would continue for a minimum of three years, and promised that during the three-year period, a concerted effort would be made to improve racing's business model," Liebau said in the letter dated May 8.

"Without success, (the company) spent millions on two statewide initiatives that would have brought slot machines to Hollywood Park, and thereby assured the continuation of racing.

"In the absence of a favorable change in racing's business model, the ultimate development of the Hollywood property was inevitable," he said. "Sadly for we who love racing and Hollywood Park, it was simply a matter of time."

The initial home of the Breeders' Cup, Hollywood Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary with its traditional spring/summer season. The meet ends July 14.

The final Hollywood Park winter meet will be held Nov. 7 through Dec. 22.

Located minutes from Los Angeles International Airport, the 238-acre property has been approved for redevelopment to homes and other commercial use.

Horsemen and the CHRB have yet to develop an alternative to Hollywood Park, which is used for year-round training as well as racing. Its stable area holds almost 2,000 horses.

After Hollywood Park's departure, the only remaining major racetracks in California will be Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Del Mar Race Course in San Diego County and Golden Gate Fields in Albany.

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(c)2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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