Being the state of harness racing, it is always great to highlight the bright spots in the sport. One such spot is California. Yes, that California, a state where harness racing has had periods of crisis where its epitaph could have been written over the past three decades or so; yet it continues.
The racing may not be top flight, but it amazingly has one of the highest combined handles for their product in the industry, no doubt to its placement, being in the pacific time zone. Well, the sport is getting an additional dose of stability thanks to a lease which has been extended until May, 2022; an additional six years which in this sport is a lifetime.
Sacramento, Calif. - The California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo) and current harness racing operator Watch and Wager LLC have reached an agreement to keep Cal Expo as the home of California Harness racing until May of 2022.
The Cal Expo Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend the lease agreement at Friday’s Fair Board meeting in Sacramento.
“As the home facility for five professional level sporting operations, Cal Expo is particularly pleased with Watch and Wager LLC operation of harness racing,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of California Exposition and State Fair.
“This contract extension is just one example of our mutual commitment to the sport of horse racing.”
Watch and Wager LLC took over operation of Cal Expo harness racing in November of 2012 and recently completed their fourth year of operation with a winter/spring meeting that ended on May 8 and featured a pair of 10 percent purse increases.
“I want to thank the Cal Expo Board for their confidence and support,” said Ed Comins, President of Watch and Wager LLC. “We are fully committed to Cal Expo and the California Standardbred Racing Industry.”
Jim Perez, Executive Director of the California Harness Horseman’s Association expressed his organization’s support “This extension will provide further industry stability and allow our horseman and breeders to make long term plans.”
Harness racing is set to return to Cal Expo on Saturday, October 22.
Now, if they could get enough new racing stock to get higher purses and a third night of racing weekly, things would really be great for the California horsemen. One step at a time.