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HORSE RACING

They're still running at Hollywood Park

Track hasn't been turned into condos yet, so the autumn meeting opens Thursday.

November 09, 2011|By Eric Sondheimer
  • Until the property market recovers, horse racing will remain Hollywood Park's main attraction.
Until the property market recovers, horse racing will remain Hollywood… (Associated Press )

People keep waiting for Hollywood Park to be turned into condos and office buildings, but the Inglewood track is going full speed ahead with its 31st autumn meeting, which begins Thursday and lasts through Dec. 18.

The track's always optimistic president, Jack Liebau, said nothing has changed from the orders he was given when the track was purchased by Bay Meadows Land Co. in 2005 and talk about tearing down the track to make way for condos began.

The message has been that "racing will continue indefinitely" until economic conditions become more favorable.

"It's pretty obvious the economy and real estate market are not what they hoped to be," Liebau said.

All Liebau can do is what he controls, and that's the racing side of the business.

"Hollywood Park has the best race track in California and no question the best backside," Liebau said, referring to stable accommodations and living conditions for stable employees.

The Cushion Track at the racetrack has received praise for its safety and ability to handle changing weather conditions.

However, attracting on-site fans remains a big challenge. There will be two Friday night cards — this week and Nov. 18, with concerts planned. Highlighting the 26-day meeting are five Grade I events, led by the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 17, a race for 2-year-olds that frequently produces a Kentucky Derby contender.

The meeting also allows trainers to show off their late-developing horses, and trainer John Shirreffs has a promising 2-year-old, Battle Force, who could make an appearance. The son of Giant's Causeway broke his maiden Nov. 4 with a victory in a mile turf race.

Trainers who had horses run in the Breeders' Cup last week must make decisions if they'll give them a rest or bring them back during the meeting. Trainer Mike Machowsky said Caracortado, the fifth-place finisher in the Turf Sprint, is a candidate for the Citation Handicap on Nov. 26. But Creative Cause, the third-place finisher in the Juvenile, won't be making an appearance. Trainer Mike Harrington said the 2-year-old will be "getting a rest" in preparation for a run at the Kentucky Derby next May.

Hollywood Park's Turf Festival will take place Nov. 25-27 and feature the $250,000 Matriarch on Nov. 25 and the $250,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 27.

Post time will be 12:30 p.m. Racing will be held Thursday through Sunday and expand to five days beginning Dec. 7.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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