My sources all tell me that Frank Stronach will inform horsemen during a meeting at Del Mar tonight that he will install a traditional dirt track at Santa Anita immediately following the Oak Tree meet and it will be finished in time for the track’s winter-spring meet that begins on Dec. 26.
Stronach also reportedly will tell horsemen that he’d like to have Oak Tree as a tenant for three additional years after this one, but that is contingent on a few things happening in his favor. One industry souce told me he still expects Oak Tree to be run at Del Mar beginning in 2011.
Earlier reports that Oak Tree would switch to Hollywood Park this year in order for work to begin immediately on the new track are untrue. Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau told me earlier today that there are no plans in the works for Oak Tree to race at the Inglewood track in 2010.
Stronach reportedly has already gotten permission from Arcadia officials to have work crews in line 24 hours per day to install the new dirt track in time for the regular Santa Anita meet. There is a high level of confidence that the work could be completed between the time Oak Tree closes on Sunday, Oct. 31 and the opening of Santa Anita’s winter-spring meet.
Another source said if the project was delayed in any way, a contingency plan could involve racing the first days of the meet at Hollywood Park.
We’ll know more tonight after Stronach’s meeting with the horsemen, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Del Mar’s Surfside Raceplace.