Officials attempt to save racetrack 

When Richard Shapiro voted down an appeal from Bay Meadows racetrack owners Thursday, he indirectly brought an end to the track where he watched his family’s horse Native Diver race to fame in the 1950s.

In a 4-2 vote Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board denied the Bay Meadows Land Co.’s request for a two-year waiver on a rule requiring the track to install new synthetic tracks to protect horses and riders from falls and injuries.

But with the looming trans-formation of the track into a mixed-use urban development, company spokesman Adam Alberti said on Thursday that they do not want to invest the millions of dollars it would take to install a new track.

"I voted not to approve the waiver with great sadness, not wanting to see Bay Meadows go away," said Shapiro, the Horse Racing Board chairman.

Without the waiver, the racetrack does not have a racing license, and Bay Meadows President Jack Leibau said the track will shut down at the end of this season. But local and state officials are hoping to keep horses racing at least through 2008.

On Friday, San Mateo Mayor Jack Matthews and several city colleagues met with Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, to discuss — among other things — the future of the track.

It’s too early to say what the city will ultimately do, Matthews said, but the primary concern is trying to find a way to assist the employees who will lose their jobs and mitigate the loss of $600,000 in annual revenue to the city.

"That’s an impact that we’d like to put off for a little while and plan for a little better than we could with this abrupt change," Matthews said.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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