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Reopening of San Luis Rey Downs pushed back to April 1

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

ARCADIA, Calif. – The reopening of San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall, Calif., which sustained widespread damage in a wildfire on Dec. 7, has been delayed until April 1 to allow construction of 250 temporary stalls and permit the offtrack training center to receive daily compensation from a stabling fund.

Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns San Luis Rey Downs and Santa Anita, said last month that some stalls would be available at San Luis Rey Downs as early as this week, with full capacity set for the spring.

Ritvo said on Wednesday that horses will not return to the property until construction is complete.

A leading factor is financing. When San Luis Rey Downs is open, The Stronach Group receives a daily stipend from an industry-controlled offtrack stabling and vanning fund to defray costs. Many of the horses formerly based at San Luis Rey Downs have been housed at Del Mar since the fire, allowing Del Mar to receive funding.

“We could move 200 horses in,” Ritvo said. “We’re ready with that. The stabling and vanning fund has asked us to not to move in until the whole thing is ready.”

By postponing the reopening until April 1, Ritvo said construction can begin on 250 temporary stalls to replace barns lost in a fire that claimed the lives of 46 horses. Barns with capacity for 200 horses were not affected by the fire, he said.

Previously, San Luis Rey Downs had the capacity for 495 horses. There were approximately 450 horses on the property at the time of the wildfire.

Ritvo said bids have been received from three companies to construct the new stalls, which he said will be 12 feet by 12 feet with canvas roofs.

“We’ll put in temporary stalls and decide whether to make them permanent or build new ones,” he said. “It will take two or three weeks to put the temporaries in.”

Ritvo said some modifications would need to be made to the temporary barns to give them permanent status. He said debris from the fire has been removed.

“Now, it’s a matter of grading it and making sure everything is level, making sure water and electrical is set,” Ritvo said.

Ritvo said another benefit to delaying the reopening allows construction to take place without horses on the property.

“If we have cranes putting up stalls, it would be disruptive to the horses that are there,” he said.

San Luis Rey Downs must be renovated by mid-April at the latest. Del Mar can remain open until then, but the barns must be vacated in advance of the San Diego County Fair, which begins in early June.

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