RANCHO SANTA FE — They don’t care who ends up buying the Del Mar Fairgrounds, they just don’t want to fall through the cracks with the new owner.
Calling themselves the San Diego Horse Show Alliance, this group of highly competitive people, many of them Rancho Santa Fe residents, want to establish themselves in the eyes of the new owner as a permanent fixture at the fairgrounds.
“Our group is not taking sides at all. All we want to do is use it for our horse shows and competitions,” said Jacqui Grande, spokeswoman for the group.
She said she and others fear the new owner will put more emphasis on the more lucrative horse racing and cut into their schedule of competitions and events.
“Some people are totally unaware of how this will affect them,” she said. “A lot of kids ride there and board their horses there. It is something that is being hidden right now.
“If Del Mar purchases the property, racing will be going year-round, not just horses, but training on the track. There is going to be a conflict.”
Because of the budget crunch at the state level, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put some state-owned property on the block including the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The city of Del Mar was interested immediately, but because it is state property, the sale must be approved by the legislature. On Dec. 16, 2010, State Sen. Christine Kehoe introduced SB 1 which would authorize the state to sell the land, but attention to that has been diverted due to the budget crisis. As a result the bill is languishing in committee. It should get its first reading near the end of this month.
Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier said he encourages the Alliance to stay active in the matter.
“We have met with this group and assured them we will work with the horse owners so there will be no conflict between events that take place a the fairgrounds,” he said. “We value all the events they have and all the visitors they bring to the region. We would do everything possible to improve the venue.”
Grande said the group does intend to stay involved.
She said the mission of the group is to preserve, promote and represent the interest of the Horse Show Community at the fairgrounds and Horse Park, to improve conditions of the facility, educate the community and encourage community attendance and sponsorship at horse shows.
Grande is inviting others to join the group.
“In other words, regardless of if you would like the 22nd District Agricultural Association to remain in management or you would like to see the city of Del Mar purchase the property, you are welcome to be involved with the San Diego Horse Show Alliance as a representative from your area of the equestrian world,” she said.
Many Rancho Santa Fe residents have and ride horses and compete in competition.
“This is a group of people who are highly competitive to a level — the Olympic level,” she said. “Del Mar has been a pre-qualifier for dressage, jumping and Para Olympics.”
She said the new owner needs to know that about 25 percent of their horse events are held right on the racetrack and the rest at the horse park in the back of the fairgrounds.
“This is important, someone needs to speak up,” she said.