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Nearly ready to roll

Jockey Laffit Pincay to appear at grand opening

Posted: July 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita Lanes owner Tom Cristi sits at the bar, where there will soon be a "Watch and Wager" off-track betting lounge at Saugus bowling alley.

Santa Clarita Lanes owner Tom Cristi will be holding a soft opening Friday of a renovated 800-square-foot eatery, offering more food and beverages, and a state-authorized televised horse race and satellite wagering facility at his Saugus bowling alley.

“Nothing else is changing, and the same family activities will continue,” Cristi said. “Santa Clarita Lanes will remain a family entertainment center.”

A grand opening is planned July 14, with legendary jockey Laffit Pincay making an appearance, Cristi said.
Cristi is investing $100,000 to renovate the bowling alley’s 800-square-foot eatery, adding more food and beverage services and bringing televised horse races and satellite wagering options.
Pincay retired in 2003 as the all-time leader in career wins, winning the Kentucky Derby and three consecutive Belmont Stakes.

Renovation of the Vincenzo’s Pizza & Lounge is nearly done, so that both families and business patrons can sit down in a clubhouse setting for a meal and beverages, as well as to watch the races, he said. Cristi also hopes to hosts corporate parties to build up daytime business when the center is typically slow.
Approved by the California Horse Racing Board as a “simulcast facility,” Santa Clarita Lanes has a 10-year lease with the board, Cristi said. The state-run board manages the operation, monitoring to ensure anyone placing a bet is of age. The bowling alley operates the food and beverages.

“I hope to improve food and beverage revenues by 200 percent,” Cristi said. “That’s why we’re making this investment-partnership with the CHRB.”

Currently, horse-racing enthusiasts must travel to the Ventura County or Antelope Valley fairgrounds to watch races and place off-track bets, he said. There are 22 other state-sanctioned “Watch and Wager” facilities.
The California Horse Racing Board pays a small percent of the wagering proceeds back to the satellite facility and to the city or county where its located, adding to taxes collected by local governments which in turn support local services for residents. Sales taxes from increased spending for food and beverages also go to the city.

Races from around the country will be broadcast on some 35 TVs set up in the newly revamped lounge area to broadcast the races live Thursday through Sunday. The horse tracks will have a local start time of 10 a.m., which will feature east coast races, said Santa Clarita Lanes manager Craig Goodman.


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