Del Mar Fairgrounds to consider three options for reopening Horsepark

Del Mar Horsepark
Del Mar Horsepark

(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The board of directors that oversees the Del Mar Fairgrounds will meet next month to consider options to resume equestrian activities at Del Mar Horsepark in 2022, fairgrounds officials announced ahead of the board’s May 11 meeting.

To the surprise of the local equestrian community, the 22nd District Agricultural Association announced in December that horse shows at Del Mar Horsepark would be canceled in 2021, and horses that were boarded there would have 90 days to leave. Riding lessons and dressage competitions were also canceled.

Del Mar Horsepark, located on 65 acres about three miles east of the Del Mar Fairgrounds at the corner of El Camino Real and Via de la Valle in the San Dieguito River Valley, requires infrastructure updates to satisfy Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements. A plan to implement approximately $3-4 million of wastewater management measures would allow the venue to reopen.

There are three possibilities currently under consideration for reopening Del Mar Horsepark: having the 22nd DAA resume operations, exploring a public/private partnership or holding an open bid for an operator to run the Horsepark under the 22nd DAA’s guidelines.

Fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore said during the board’s May 11 meeting that she had originally anticipated giving the board a recommendation this month.

“But in fact,” she said during the meeting, “we’re looking to do that at the June meeting, allowing us a bit more time to get some of the answers.”

The fairgrounds board of directors also formed a Horsepark ad-hoc committee to work with staff and the community as the costs of water quality improvements, history of capital investments and improvements at Del Mar Horsepark, and funding opportunities were being evaluated. The committee hosted a public workshop in January.

Moore said that the recommendation to fair board members on how to proceed with Del Mar Horsepark will be released online the Friday before their June 8 meeting, when the meeting agenda and supporting materials are posted on the fairgrounds website.

Solana Beach resident Carla Echols-Hayes started a GoFundMe that raised more than $6,000 toward costs of evaluating options for the Horsepark that she and a grassroots group of the facility’s supporters have been sharing with the fairgrounds.

“I’m really happy at the progress that’s been made so far, because these things can take a great deal of time,” Echols-Hayes said during public comment.

Fair board member Michael Gelfand, who chairs the ad hoc committee, said he thinks fairgrounds staff has been doing a good in job in working toward the Del Mar Horsepark’s reopening.

“I know there’s a lot of community concern about getting the facility opened,” he said.