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One-horse race likely in bid to run track
Club's 20-year lease to end in December
By Tanya Mannes
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. July 19, 2009
DEL MAR — A lucrative concession to operate the annual summer horse races at the state-owned Del Mar Racetrack is up for grabs for the first time in 20 years.
The racetrack, part of the Dal Mar Fairgrounds, has been operated since 1968 by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, a private, nonprofit corporation whose lease expires in December. The club hopes to keep the contract, and it might not face much competition.
Most racing industry leaders viewed as potential competitors had effusive praise for the Thoroughbred Club and said they won't seek the contract out of respect for the organization.
“Del Mar Racetrack is an excellently operated racetrack as a result of a top-flight management team,” said Jack Liebau, Hollywood Park racetrack president. He said the club “well deserves to have its lease renewed.”
The track generates money – $5.3 million last year – to fund future capital projects at the fairgrounds and pay off debt for the grandstand built in 1993.
The chance to bid on the concession contract is occurring as the horse-racing industry is struggling economically and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed selling the fairgrounds to raise cash for the state.
The contract is for a shorter initial term than the previous 20-year agreement, which will give the state more flexibility in deciding what to do with the land.
The horse racing industry in the United States is seeing declines in “handle,” or amount wagered, but the drop in revenue isn't as severe as that facing casinos and other gambling enterprises. Eric Wing, senior director of media for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said he doesn't think the troubles would prevent anyone from bidding on Del Mar.
But it is unlikely to happen. ...
Lots more snipped.
WANT TO RUN THE RACETRACK?
State officials are soliciting bids to operate the horse races at Del Mar.
The request seeking proposals was released July 7; bids are due Sept. 14.
The contract term is for five years, beginning Jan. 1. The state would have the option to extend it three times for a total of 20 years.
Bidders must have a minimum $500,000 line of credit, 10 years' experience with a similar-sized horse meet and the ability to obtain insurance.
The proposal must describe plans for maximizing betting handle, attracting the best horses and providing competitive purses and large fields.
The contract requires approval from the state Race Track Leasing Commission, which is composed of members of the 22nd District Agricultural Association and state officials in Sacramento.
Online: To see the request for proposal, go to uniontrib.com/more/dmtrack