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Del Mar Horsepark (Horsetrader photo)

DEL MAR — The Del Mar Fairgrounds announced last month that the Del Mar Horsepark — the region’s last venue capable of hosting major horse shows year-round — must suspend horse boarding and shows in 2021. There are 38 horses boarded at the horse park by three trainers who have monthly stall rentals that expire at the end of 2020, and they were given through March 2021 to vacate, according to published reports.

There also is a 2021 show calendar filled by a variety of show organizations that have — as they have for many years — booked the facility to stage their events.

Fairground authorities say compliance with California environmental mandates is driving the abrupt suspension since horse facilities now fall under the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) governmental regulations. Such compliance requires extensive and expensive infrastructure improvements “required to meet water quality requirements for equestrian activities,” according to a news release.

The Horsepark is located next to the San Dieguito River about two miles east of the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds staff will attempt to move horse shows to the fairgrounds, where there have been infrastructure upgrades “that can accommodate large-scale equestrian events.” Part of a recently completed two-year, $15 million infrastructure project were upgrades at the fairgrounds that include a holding pond, a constructed wetlands treatment area and other improvements to the racetrack infield. The fairgrounds has also built a stormwater treatment plant to comply with state and local regulations designed to protect nearby waters.

Many people who have used the facility for years were caught off guard. A Change.org petition to keep the horse park open, addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the fair board, has amassed nearly 10,000 signatures.

Those who oppose the decision plan to address the fair board during its virtual meeting on Jan. 12 at 1:30 p.m. Opponents can arrange to speak at the Del Mar Fairgrounds via this web link: http://bit.ly/horsepark2101.

To sign the online Save The Horsepark petition, go here: http://chng.it/qR2kp8zgB9 petition

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