No horse racing (again) at state fair

Oct 31, 2006 6:34 AM

For the third consecutive summer, there will be no thoroughbred racing at the 2007 California State Fair.

At a marathon meeting last week in Arcadia, the California Horse Racing Board approved the state’s 2007 racing calendar, with Sacramento not on the summer fair schedule.

Instead, the State Fair’s traditional August and Labor Day weekend dates were granted to Bay Meadows, which also hosts the San Mateo County Fair in August.

But Cal Expo officials expect 2007 will be the last summer without thoroughbreds at the State Fair. In negotiations with racing officials, Cal Expo agreed to the new schedule with the promise that Sacramento could get back in the game in 2008.

"There’s no such thing as a sure bet in the gambling business, but we’re working with everyone involved," Cal Expo general manager Norb Bartosik said. "We’re working with the thoroughbred owners and the racing board to create a program to reinvigorate thoroughbred racing and bring it back to Cal Expo in 2008 — hopefully on an expanded basis."

Bartosik noted the Sacramento Harness Association is interested in operating harness racing again during the 2007 fair.

Cal Expo continues to pursue plans to build a seven-furlong inner track within its current one-mile oval, plus a second barn area so the track can host harness and thoroughbred meets simultaneously, racing director David Elliott said.

As Sacramento works to regain thoroughbred racing, the Solano and San Joaquin county fairs are at risk of losing theirs.

CHRB Chairman Richard Shapiro said the two fairs must "show they are viable" by bringing in more betting dollars and improving facilities. Otherwise, they could lose their dates to other fairs in 2008.

Shapiro spearheaded a plan to cut the state’s racing dates to increase the number of horses and betting per race.

Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows flipflopped their 2006 schedules.