To Our Members,
Last month, longtime and respected TOC Chairman Nick Alexander stepped down after five years of service in that demanding role. I was both humbled and honored when the Board voted to elect me the new TOC Chairman.
One of my priorities as Chairman will be to increase the ongoing communication between TOC and our membership. So starting with this letter, please expect a monthly communication from me that is intended to keep you apprised of major developments and open up pathways for future dialogs on issues that matter to you. I am a firm believer that owners are the driving force in our sport and as such it is critical to have as many owners as possible actively involved with TOC. So, let’s get to it.
Supplemental Purse Increase
Many of you heard of the supplemental purse enhancements announced in January. Click here for the announcement. To recap, after lengthy negotiations beginning last September, TOC was successful in securing $6,750,000 in extra purse money for 2021 from TVG/FanDuel and Xpressbet. A big thank you to FanDuel and The Stronach Group for recognizing the 2020 ADW windfall and providing California owners with an unprecedented injection into our purse accounts.
Today we are excited to announce we finalized the 2021 track allotments that were based on a variety of factors including the amount of ADW wagering on each California track over the past few years:
Santa Anita Park: $3,268,687.50
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club: $2,172,312.50
Golden Gate: $715,000
Los Alamitos: $459,000
If anyone sees Vice Chairman Bob Liewald at the races, give him his due props for being the guiding light behind much of the ADW negotiations.
These new purses are already having a positive impact. Santa Anita raised purses 10% for its current meet over 2020 levels with additional mid-meet increases expected in the coming months. Del Mar announced a tremendous summer purse schedule that is approximately 30% higher than 2020. As an example, the purse of maiden special weight races will be $70,000.
Along with the purse enhancements, many of you heard about the 2022 California Sports Wagering ballot initiative, which if passed would legalize sports wagering at tribal casinos and four racetracks (Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos). For the past three years, TOC has been actively involved in all facets of the sports wagering discussion, most recently playing a pivotal role in the negotiations with gaming tribes to ensure racing was included in the Sports Wagering ballot initiative. While it is still early in the process, TOC is hopeful the net result from the legalization of sports wagering in California and new sports gaming revenue sharing agreements to be negotiated with the racetracks will add as much as $10 million a year in new purse revenues statewide by 2023.
Stable and Vanning
The Stable & Vanning Committee recently gave notice to Southern California trainers that while there will be no noticeable changes to stabling in 2021, the current economics are not sustainable. In 2020, the horse population at our two primary auxiliary facilities in San Luis Rey and Los Alamitos dropped by 50% with costs remaining the same. We are currently taking a deep dive look into the program in the hopes of outlining a long-term solution. Nothing is off the table, including but not limited to, rebate-able stall rent, closing or expanding an auxiliary facility, or putting Del Mar online as a year-round training center. The Stable & Vanning program is funded equally by the TOC purse account and the racetracks. Every dollar saved is put back into purses.
Last week, with Covid-19 numbers in L.A. County declining, TOC asked Santa Anita Park to open the backside and winners’ circle to owners – and they agreed. Please click here to read to release and the current protocols at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. We know many of you are wondering when fans and guests will also be allowed back. We are making plans in the hopes L.A. County meets the new CA state guidelines for outdoor sports venues and Santa Anita Park can re-open to fans starting in April.
Until next month….