The hits keep coming for horse racing. Thursday’s program at Hollywood Park was canceled because there weren’t enough horses entered to have racing, the track said Tuesday.
Eual Wyatt Jr., vice president and general manager at the Inglewood track, characterized the problem as significant, but not life-threatening.
“This isn’t a bump in the road,” he said. “This is a large pothole.
“It’s also not a catastrophe. The world isn’t coming to an end. We’re not out of business and we’re not asking for a stimulus package.”
Indications were that there were enough horses for six races, but no more. The draw for Wednesday and Thursday races is normally held Sunday. But when it appeared the fields for those days might not fill up, the Thursday draw was postponed until Tuesday. Thursday’s racing still didn’t fill up.
“It’s simple,” Wyatt said. “There is a shortage of horses. It may be the economy. Investing in horses is an expensive proposition.
“Is this a sign of things to come? That’s only a guess.”
Wyatt said there had been cancellations because of horse shortages this winter at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California and said that Santa Anita struggled at times this winter to fill some of its fields.
According to officials, Hollywood Park has had cancellations over the years for things such as the 1992 riots, a power outage, an overflowing equine pool and a renovation project, but not for lack of horses to run.
“We will discuss and see if there are some accommodations we can make,” Wyatt said. “We should have a strategy by early next week.”
Racing will be held as usual today, and will be open Thursday for simulcast wagering on other races around the country.
Ironically, Thursday’s non-racing will be followed by the biggest betting weekend of the meet.
Hollywood Park will hold day racing Friday, rather than the usual night program, because of the Kentucky Oaks program being run at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby. Gates will open at Hollywood Park at 7 a.m. for early wagering on races from Churchill both Friday and on Kentucky Derby Day Saturday. The first live race at Hollywood Park on Derby Day will be at 11 a.m.
Hollywood Park, owned and operated by Bay Meadows Land Company, has not committed to racing past the end of next spring/summer meeting, which ends in late July 2010. Company officials have said, from the day of purchase in September 2005, that minus a turnaround in horse racing, it would turn the track into a real estate development.
Recently, Del Mar announced it would cut racing from six days a week to five this year.