The Coast News Group

Commission was formed to protect horse racing

DEL MAR — In the late 1950s there was a press party held at the Del Mar Hotel to announce that John Alessio and a Harbor City group was taking over operation of Surfside summer horse racing.
This created a firestorm that was heard from here to Sacramento.
The takeover never happened but it later gave birth to a racetrack in Bonsall now known as San Luis Rey Downs.
A mile track and a grandstand to seat an anticipated 7,500 racing fans was built. Object was to swipe the Del Mar franchise or create a new one.
That turned out to be a pipe dream.
To prevent any such future hank panky the Race Track Leasing Commission was formed.
It remains in effect and major matters concerning Del Mar racing must have its approval.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club was formed and conditions have been tranquil and highly successful since.
San Luis Rey Downs now is operating as a year-round training facility.