‘This Has To Happen’: Ritvo Discusses Planned Renovations, Future Additions To Santa Anita

by | 01.08.2018 | 3:19pm
Tim Ritvo

Prior to the start of its 2017-2018 winter-spring race meet, Santa Anita officials announced its new ‘Ship & Stay' incentive program to attract out-of-state horsemen and to incentivize them to keep running horses in California the remainder of the year.

The ‘Ship & Stay' program is one of many changes that are in the works for Santa Anita, according to Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group.

In a recent interview with Jeremy Balan of the BloodHorse, Ritvo discussed several other plans that are in the works for the facility – from expanding the stabling area to building a second turf course. Other plans include extending the main track and building a new training facility in West Covina.

First on the agenda is to add about 1,000 new stalls, which would be built to the north of the main track, on what is now a parking lot. The other changes may take a bit longer to complete, but Ritvo stressed that they need to be done.

“For racing to continue on, this has to happen.” Ritvo said. “If this doesn't happen, we're in trouble.”

Read more in the BloodHorse

  • Bubba

    I can see it, from what they learned at Laurel. One giant tent with 1000 stalls…….

  • the buzz23

    Everything should be on the table at this point for the Stronach team. There are no wrong ideas. Enough capital has been spent on primary Customer facilities over the past decade. The key is understanding what the future of sports betting looks like, and how thoroughbred racing can fit. What is an acceptable take out based on trending competitive landscapes ? What is the future business model for the sport ? Some of the ideas floated make good sense in the short term, but does not account for whether sport can survive at it’s current structure and horse population size. This is truly out of the box thinking, but I would strongly recommend that you bring in a Google team, and see if they can mine data for the industry and sports betting, and provide you feedback on any of the key issues your team has outlined to date. These folks are incredibly smart, and generally have tools to help your team reach smarter conclusions. Hoping the best for Ritvo ! Love the thoroughbred/sport, and hope it can make an imprint on many generations to come.

    • gus stewart

      You hit it on the head. Whats the new business model for the sport. the old regime resistance is so locked into keeping it the same. Correct in saying nothing is off the table. The veiw of a 5 percent increase here or there in attendance or handle is not realistic. This sport is behind 20 years and 100 percent in growth in comparrision to other sports business. So until they can grasp that concept and do something out of the box dramatic to rebrand the sport its over. Cut off the dependants that are holding on to the past veiws. It wont work here anymore.

    • Monrovia Damon

      Well said Buzz

    • Vendettaroad

      Perhaps you need to examine RITVO’S resume –
      Formal Education (degree in ?), unaccomplished Jockey – Racing Office Clerk – Asst Trainer / Trainer to his wife’s family stable (Petro).
      Hardly the qualifications of a CEO – COO – PRESIDENT – of other major American Corporations! Wonder why racing has problems? It’s drowning in
      ~ CRONYISM / NEPOTISM

      • the buzz23

        The visuals over the past 25 years lead me to agree with your central conclusions, but Mr Stronach is an unusual billionaire. He invested pretty serious capital in a number of sites (SA probably dwarfing many) when business was NOT investing their own capital. We could argue for a while whether it was prudent based on where the Biz Model seems to be heading, but at least the man seems open to invest and I like you just hope they are spending money based on smart advice. Hence my earlier recommendation to get some real Wiz Kids from Google involved. Data is king today. Survey demographics and data mining should be the first tool to understand where you are today and what is even possible in the future based on that information/data. Additional infrastructure spend is plain foolish unless coupled with sound biz plan supported by proper resources to execute.

      • gus stewart

        I agreed with u on other post but not completely here.nrpotism cronyism absolutely a huge problem in racing. But gulfstream for its part has shown some changes are good. I dont know how much ritvo had to do with this but they have improved. I would definitely agree a sports advertising marketing preferrably female would help. So as long as ritvo starts firing the dead weight and works on seriously going to the state of california and demand a change with chrb and stewards. I wont care whats his background is. .alls are needed to change racings public perception. So if he has them he can do some good for calif racing. And yes he needs to listen to people like paulick report commentors and read pr report. I will stop him this wkend again and tell him so.. i dont care if he knows me or others. But he needs to listen outside of his yes sir employees

      • Terri Z

        There is nothing of the sort. Tim Ritvo’s education is from being a jockey and trainer. He did a great job at Gulfstream Park and Laurel Park.
        His most famous trainee was Much Macho Man.
        Stronach is trying to save racing in California. Churchill Downs has no interest in racing outside of it’s home track.
        The people who run Churchill Downs are college educated but are not horsemen.
        And they sold the land at Hollywood Park and closed the track without any concern for racing or for their employees in California. I live between Calder and Gulfstream Park in South Florida. CDI tore down the clubhouse, most of the barns, and leased the track to Gulfstream. They keep the track open in order to have a casino. Hialeah has quarter horse match races to keep their casino open.
        Land is very expensive and most race tracks are empty unless there are stakes races. Empty seats do not pay the bills.
        Many hate Stronach but he is an innovator who loves horse racing.

  • Hamish

    If all the improvements mentioned by Tim Ritvo were to be approved, what would the projected total cost be for these? Based on the list that has been made public, 10’s of millions of dollars would be my guess. With horse racing operating on razor thin margins at the racetrack operator level, what would be the financial incentive, risk/reward and projected R.O.I for this type of capital commitment? In prior times, MEC and MID provided the monies for these projects, but now it is just The Stronach Group and whatever money it chooses to contribute or borrow?

    • Eric

      I will say that the Stronach group has not been shy about spending money at their facilities even when the ROI seemed questionable, and they have had success doing it. They pumped a lot of money into Laurel, including investing greatly into the turf course despite the fact that many of Laurel’s dates were in the winter. They also completely rebuilt Gulfstream sparing no expense (and also built Palm Meadows for $90M), and introduced year round racing. I would say that over the past couple of years, Maryland racing and Gulfstream have been 2 of the sport’s success stories, with improved racing product and increased business.

      I think the question is this – if they build a new training center in the LA area, will there be horses to fill those stalls by the time the place is built?

      • Hamish

        Enough horses, good question.

  • MA

    When it comes to backside improvements at Santa Anita, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Scott Ramnarine

    Curious as to the location in West Covina

    • Monrovia Damon

      Same here — about 6 months ago there was a story about rehabbing Pomona and its existing facility to train/stable. Makes a lot of sense. A secondary spot is needed but this is the first I’ve heard about West Covina

  • Jake

    What about GGF Timmy? They average about 600 people on a Thursday if that and their stall walls don’t even touch the ground…….

    • StrideBig

      I noticed the same thing in the barn I spent time in at RP last season. I’m glad it isn’t limited to Remington, and see that other facilities let their barn/stall areas deteriorate. I wish places would put money/effort into their barn/stall areas. Talk about dangerous when a horse decides to take a roll in their stall. ~K

      • Jake

        Sad to hear, I don’t know about RP but California actually has so called safety stewards lol and they walk through the Unsafe Barn’s all the time and do not acknowledge the exact issue of what you stated a horse can get a leg stuck.Too many Yes Men in this business. Also I often wonder if the stable area at all major tracks across the country were kept pleasant maybe when they have barn tours they might spark some interest in a potential owner? as opposed to I’m never going back to that disgusting place? Lol

        • StrideBig

          The trainer and owner I shadowed, stated more than once that they wished RP would put some work into improving the stalls. I bet a lot of tracks have safety officers that ignore the same issues. Hell, maybe the bigger trainers get the nicer stall spaces. I’ll have to walk through more barns next year and take a look see. ~K

          • Jake

            Actually what I’ve notice is the big barn trainers don’t care or there just ignorant. I’ve been told by a official that NO racetracks in America put $ into there Barn Area my reply was maybe if you build a house from the inside out the game my not be dying.😂keep me posted

          • StrideBig

            Will do. *thumbs up* They were going to head to Sam Houston after the RP meet, but last minute took a farm manager position at one of the big TB farms here in OK. They’ve invited me out to come see the youngsters and soon to be new babies!! I so hope I get to witness a foaling. Too bad PR doesn’t have a message board community.

  • Vendettaroad

    “Read more in BLOODHORSE”. That’s nothing but a propaganda rag for the arrogant misguided upper echelon of THOROUGHBRED RACING. Little wonder that the once popular sport is reeling from a lack of oversight and proper business acumen.
    The BLOODHORSE periodical has Editors who don’t, or are unwilling, to expose the grey areas of racing. They ignore honest criticisms. Cater to the money changers.
    You can learn more about actuaries in Thoroughbred Racing by reading Paulick Report and it’s COMMENTS.

    • gus stewart

      u are correct, the bloodhorse is continuing snow job for the older owners to think everything is in good hands and keep buying. keep renewing your subscription and we will continue to deliver the smoke and mirrors . The PR tells and give the fans and some owners, trainers a chance to state the facts. for those who you know that still get there info from the bloodhorse, tell them you may want to fast forward to 2018 and read the Paulick report before they bury you!!!!

  • 33horses

    More stalls at Santa Anita? How about make the backside there better and use some of that money to fix up San Luis Rey!

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