The San Luis Rey Training Center along with the Los Alamitos Race Course barns rely on subsidies from the Southern California Stabling and Vanning Fund to help cover the expenses which allow the horses stabled at those facilities to be ready for racing. The California Horse Racing Board meeting Thursday, Dec. 14, approved the 2024 Stabling and Vanning financial and operational plans which budget $3,268,500 for San Luis Rey.
The plan was approved on a 4-0 vote with Damascus Castellanos, Gregory Ferraro, Oscar Gonzales and Brenda Washington Davis voting in favor and with Dennis Alfieri, Thomas Hudnut and Wendy Mitchell absent. A separate 4-0 vote approved a stabling and vanning advanced deposit wagering agreement, which increases the stabling and vanning deduction from the track amount from 1.02% to 1.15%.
Southern California Off-Track Wagering Inc. oversees off-track wagering and simulcast transmissions for the off-track facilities. SCOTWINC provides a stabling and vanning subsidy derived from off-track wagering which reduces the rent paid to the facilities by trainers. Initially the Stabling and Vanning Committee money was obtained only from satellite wagering facilities and not from on-line advance deposit wagering, and the increase in advance deposit wagering decreased the satellite wagering amount available for the subsidies. In 2009, the Stabling and Vanning Committee voted to cease funding for San Luis Rey, which at the time was called the San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred Training Center, and for Fairplex Park in Pomona as of Jan. 1, 2010. Fairplex closed its stable area to off-site stabling. San Luis Rey Downs faced closure before a group of local trainers obtained a lease on the facility.
San Luis Rey was closed for renovations between June 2013 and January 2014. In September 2013, the CHRB approved the allocation of race dates for the next racing year, and the approval of the Southern California racing calendar also included approval of associated agreements including the Southern California auxiliary off-track stabling issue which returned SCOTWINC funding to San Luis Rey.
The Southern California Stabling and Vanning fund is managed and administered jointly by the Thoroughbred Owners of California and all facilities within the Central/Southern zone where a thoroughbred or fair racing meet is conducted. Los Alamitos currently hosts the Los Angeles County Fair meet which had previously taken place during the county fair itself in Pomona, although the Los Angeles County Fair is still the formal meet association. The Los Angeles Turf Club is the association for the meets at Santa Anita Park, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club handles the meets at the Del Mar track and the Los Alamitos Racing Association is the organizing entity for Los Alamitos meets other than the fair meet.
Santa Anita stables horses when racing is not in session there, as did Hollywood Park before that facility closed in early 2014. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club stables horses on-site during the Del Mar summer and fall meets. Los Alamitos is the only quarter horse racing track in Southern California and added thoroughbred racing after Hollywood Park closed. San Luis Rey is a CHRB‑approved auxiliary training facility, although no racing has ever occurred there.
The 2024 Stabling and Vanning financial and operational plans anticipate physical facilities and advance deposit wagering to generate $10,572,193 of funding. Because the projected shortfall at the end of 2023 was $125,239 the 2024 budget includes $160,873 to replenish the funding along with $10,411,320 of expenses. The $9,486,320 of stabling payments covers $3,851,820 for Los Alamitos and $2,366,000 for Santa Anita as well as the $3,268,500 for San Luis Rey. Vanning costs will consume $850,000 of the budget while $75,000 is designated for administrative and other miscellaneous expenses.
The stabling and vanning deduction utilizes money which would otherwise be part of the purse for race finishes or the track commission. A decline in on-track wagering following the coronavirus outbreak reduced funding from that source, so in December 2021, the CHRB approved adjustments to cover the shortfall and increased the deduction to 1.20% for 2022. The deduction was decreased to 1.02% for 2023. The agreement between the Southern California tracks which conduct meets, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association increased that amount to 1.15% for 2024.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].