Trainer John Shirreffs is best known for his work with the super 5-year-old mare Zenyatta, but this week he’s in the news because he’s one of the major players with the California Horsemen for Change — a new group of Southern California-based trainers who are unhappy with California Thoroughbred Trainers and have pushed for a special election to replace the CTT’s entire nine-member board.
But this isn’t all about the anti-synthetic tracks fervor that has sprung up over the past 18 months. This also has to do with many other issues, including the shrinkage of purse sizes, medication and the distribution of Advance Deposit Wagering revenues. It’s also about the lack of communication the disgruntled trainers feel has existed between the CTT executive board and members of the organization.
“As an example of what’s going on in the industry and an example of not having all the cards on the table, there was a rumor that the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California) was supporting Santa Anita in getting dates from Hollywood Park, which obviously would shorten the (existence) of Hollywood Park,” Shirreffs said. “If they take dates away from Hollywood Park, that pushes them closer to closing. And for a lot of trainers, for myself in particular, we would not want to see that happen.
“We would hope that the TOC would do everything it can to keep both race tracks operational. To favor one track over the other is not a position the CTT should be supporting. And if they are supporting it, that’s against the majority of the trainers’ wishes.
“Those are the kind of issues, the gray areas, that we really don’t know because they don’t come out and explain themselves to us. Suddenly, it’s always the board says this and that, where they could easily say the membership is split on these issues, but they don’t do it that way.”