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Hollypark-Horsemen Dispute Still Unresolved

April 23, 1986|GRAHAME L. JONES | Times Staff Writer

If there were a horse named Controversy running today at Hollywood Park, it would be a good hunch bet.

There isn't, however, so all that is left is the real controversy, the one between the horsemen and the track. That shows no sign of subsiding.

On Tuesday afternoon, a day before the opening of the Inglewood track's 47th spring-summer meeting, charges and countercharges flew like rice at a wedding.

It doesn't seem likely that there will be a marriage--or any other kind of contract--soon between the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Assn. and Hollywood Park, however. Not the way both sides were talking.

According to Don Johnson, executive director of the HBPA, which represents all California owners and trainers in contract negotiations with the state's race tracks, the organization is dissatisfied with the barn conditions at Hollywood Park.

Johnson said it is quite possible that the entire 67-day meeting could pass without accord being reached. He said that a meeting has been scheduled for 8 a.m. today with track officials, but held out little hope of a settlement.

"We're quite a ways apart," he said. "(Hollywood Park officials) have only moved slightly from their original position."

Johnson said that the horsemen believe that there are too few barns and too many "dilapidated" barns. They also want the track to pay a larger share of the expense involved in transporting horses in from off-track barns.

The sale of California lottery tickets at the track is another sore spot with the horsemen, as are allegedly inadequate parking facilities for backstretch employees and several other minor matters.

Johnson said that because these HBPA concerns have not been addressed, many horsemen have decided not to enter their horses until an agreement is reached. Consequently, he claimed, both the size and quality of the fields in this week's races have been weakened.

Marje Everett, Hollywood Park's chief executive officer, denounced any attempt at a boycott, saying it is a small minority of the horsemen who are "disrupting the racing industry."

"I've been in racing 40-odd years and have never been shut down by any horsemen," she said. "I think it's a small segment of people, a minority, who are hurting everybody, hurting themselves and hurting the industry."

According to Everett, the track has spent $16 million in improvements and will continue to upgrade the facility, including the barn area. The majority of the so-called big-name trainers, she said, do not support any boycott.

"Many owners have expressed themselves to us that they have given strict instructions to their trainers (to enter their horses)," she said.

Today's opening-day card is highlighted by the $75,000-added Premiere Handicap, with Both Ends Burning, ridden by Laffit Pincay, the favorite. The 1 1/16-mile race on the turf course has attracted a field of eight.

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