Northern California Equine Association
P.O. Box 276022
Sacramento, CA 95827

Meeting Minutes



Attendees: 32


The meeting was called to order by Joe Daehling and the panel was asked to address questions that were preprinted and passed out to the attendees.

1) What is status of the idea of having one condition book for racing in the North and South?

At the present time, according to Pronske, the North and South communicate about which races they are writing. There is nothing on the table to have one condition book at this time.

2, 3) Can TOC work with the racing secretary to write races that fit Northern California Horses? I.e.- $40k starters in the north when we don’t even have $40 maidens should be changed to $20k starter races. Give us $8k starters not southern Cal. Consult with the racing secretary as to what their horse inventory would fill, instead of TOC independently making those decisions. Give us more starter races at lower levels for those that don’t want to run for a tag.

Tunney indicated it was not a bad idea to write $8,000 Starters but it depends on the inventory of horses. That is what drives whether or not certain races are written. TOC reviews the races that are written before the contract is signed. The goal is to write races that fill. Wayne Atwell, TOC, indicated that the Fairs can write these races as well.
Pronske indicated that we all have the information of who to contact if we want certain races written.

4) What is the status of the Off Track betting parlors and mini-satellites?

Howard presented that SB 1439 by Price which would allow mini-satellites within the 20 mi radius of existing satellite facilities was voted down as a result of CARF’s campaigning against it. She made it clear that as members of the racing world, it is important for us to contact our representatives and request they vote for particular bills that affect us. The Fair Directors did not want this passed and they lobbied their reps to not pass it.

There are a couple of facilities moving in our direction though. Per Hartman, Pleasanton is agreeing to give Pleasant Hill a waiver for a mini-satellite facility and San Mateo County fair won’t block satellites that may want to work out of San Francisco. This all may not happen tomorrow but we are working on it.

Pronske indicated that to accomplish things, all of the factions need to work together. CARF fought this legislation because they were afraid of losing business. If you use the correct language to create a policy to initiate a change where CARF would be compensated somehow if they indeed lost business then we may be able to accomplish something.

Balch discussed the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and how they organized all of their legislative districts to represent horseracing. Every legislative district in Kentucky has a KEEP representative. CARF already has a natural organization to function like KEEP does. Kentucky has its issues as well but this is the type of process that may bring all of the factions together. (Check out the KEEP website at

Alex Paszkeicz, a trainer attending the meeting, opened the conversation about simulcast and the continuing conversation about it (“we are shooting ourselves in the foot”) and what are we doing to help live racing. Hartman indicated that the slots would really help but are most likely off the table at this time. Balch agreed with Paszkeicz that this was a good point. The business of racing started changing with the advent of simulcast. There is no Research and Development in the racing industry.

Vince Arguello brought up Marketing our product and we should track how each dollar in racing affects the overall economy. Balch agreed and indicated the State has only been interested in the tax implication of racing dollars and not the overall economy of racing. Dougherty suggested an Economic Impact Study be done showing how our $4-$5 Billion industry affects associated industry (pharmaceutical, steel, diesel, agriculture, auto, heavy equipment, JOBS) There are approx 30,000 jobs in the racing industry. Pronske suggested if we had this info every website could post it and show the association jobs/money and contact all of the associated industries and show them how we affect their business. Maybe then, the associated industry could help us, support us in our legislative work. Daehling wondered if the CTBA could facilitate this study.

5. If Churchill Downs can/must go to night racing to bring in more fans, why not Golden Gate? Has this been considered lately and rejected for some reason?

The city will not allow lights. They would bother residents.

6. Is there any way that the CTT or TOC can coerce the Workers comp insurers to let out of state trainers just pay for the workers comp for the months they are here? The mandatory annual fee keeps lots of small stable trainers from coming here on their off season. Maybe this has already been addressed?

Per Balch the Worker’s Comp (WC) program expires July 1and the Horsemen’s Safety Alliance (they facilitate the WC program) are working on a new contract. There is a policy being proposed to provide a WC programs that will lure out of State trainers by providing “no cost WC to imports”. WC currently is seen to be a barrier to racing in California. We want it to be a magnet to racing in California. They are working on it. Hartman indicated that rate is currently the same for all trainers but it should be adjusted for those with good records. They should reward good safety records by providing a discount. A supplemental plan for trainers was added last year.

7. What is the industry stance as to race track surface and safety? As the fatalities have been seriously reduced with the artificial surfaces, is it still possible for some of CA major tracks to go back to dirt?

According to Hartman, fatalities have been reduced but there is mixed data on injuries and the ability to perform. Balch discussed the difference in data on the different surfaces (Proride, Tapeta, Cushion) even amongst the different tracks of the same named surface. According to the CTT, trainers across the board favor natural surfaces. Dougherty explained the surfaces were marketed to require zero maintenance but the tracks have had to learn on-the-fly how to maintain each one. According to Bon Smith, the CHRB is willing to accept on a case-by-case basis requests to return to dirt. They have engaged a study by Engineers to check the consistency, moisture content, etc. of the different surfaces and acquire accurate calculations.

8. What is the long term plan for racing at Golden Gate? Are there plans for some of the fairgrounds to take dates during the spring or fall?

Per Hartman, GGF, owned by Magna, plan to keep the racetrack at this time. They are trying to come up with ideas to make it profitable. Any change to the facility requires a vote by the city.

9. Can we talk to CHRB about getting involved in collections between licensed members? They have the staffing and with the short fields/less live race days should have the time. We're losing farms, shoers and trainers because of bad paying clients that are still allowed to race and keep the purse money. Our vet bills keep increasing to cover their losses from the same. It's adding to the general demise of our industry and could be corrected very easily. There is a 4 month waiting period to get into small claims court in my county and that's assuming you can get your party served.

Bon Smith explained that around 06-07 the CHRB cut itself off from disputes unless there is a Small Claims judgment against a party. Then they will not license the offending party. CHRB can only pursue if the Farm owner has a judgment against the debt. Howard asked if any trainers at the meeting had contracts with their clients. They all said no and she said that is a problem in our industry. Everyone should have a contract with their clients.

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