The California Horse Racing Board conducted its regular meeting Thursday, February 22, at Santa Anita Park. Chair Chuck Winner presided. Vice Chair Madeline Auerbach and Commissioners Jesse Choper, Fred Maas, Araceli Ruano and Alex Solis also were in attendance.
- Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer for The Stronach Group (TSG), reported that repairs and construction of barns either damaged or destroyed by the fire at San Luis Rey training center are underway, and TSG plans to reopen the facility for auxiliary stabling and training after April 1. This led to a discussion of continuing efforts to help those affected by the December 7 blaze. Those efforts are being carefully monitored to make certain that all donations are being properly distributed.
- Greg Avioli, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and head of the California Marketing Committee (CMC), followed up on a report on the CMC program at the January Board meeting with more detailed information on certain expenditures, including a shift of some funds from rebates for high-volume bettors to continuing efforts to increase field size.
- The Board approved a regulatory amendment establishing a minimum two-day suspension for riding infractions and requiring an even greater suspension for any jockey violating CHRB Rule 1699 (Riding Rules) within 60 days of the first violation. The stewards retain the discretion to impose suspensions longer than the two-day minimum. In a related matter, Chair Winner invited jockeys to attend the next meeting of the Stewards' Committee to further discuss the wording and interpretation of the rule limiting use of the riding crop.
- Executive Director Rick Baedeker reported that racing and training fatalities among thoroughbreds and quarter horses decreased by 25 percent in the 2017 calendar year. He noted that equine fatalities information in the just-released CHRB annual report covered the fiscal year from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, so it did not reflect the many steps taken by the CHRB and stakeholders to improve safety at Del Mar's 2017 meet, which began July 19.
- The Board received an update from Northern California stakeholders on continuing negotiations on use of revenue from Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW). Chair Winner referred the matter to the CHRB Legislative, Legal and Regulations Committee.
- Executive Director Baedeker reported that total handle increased by 13.5 percent statewide in January compared with January 2017, due largely to better weather and a significant increase in field size at Santa Anita from an average of 7.3 horses per race to 8.3 horses per race.
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