Horsepark Ghost Town

By Phil Trubey

February 24, 2021

I sat on this platform 15 years ago watching my daughter ride. Doesn’t look like it has been maintained in all that time.

I took a walk around Horsepark this afternoon. All horses are gone. All rings have been sealed, no hoofprints anywhere. A sole maintenance worker was watering the grass grand prix field.

Broken jumps litter the rings.

I have fond memories of Horsepark (or as we used to call it, Showpark) since it was my daughter’s stable fifteen years ago. As I recounted in an article I wrote almost nine years ago, Horsepark/Showpark used to be a vibrant facility teaming with horses and activity. Today’s visit was depressing. You can see the years of neglect and decay. My poor car got a workout driving on the pothole strewn dirt roads. 

This tackroom looked like the siding and light was taken.

Generous Proposal

During the last board meeting, Ms. Rowland, 22nd DAA board member, asked aloud if there was an experienced operator who could run Horsepark. That was a curious question since the board had in their hands since last fall a proposal from one such operator, Dale Harvey. Moreover Harvey is very well know to the 22nd DAA since he has been running their Del Mar National horse show at the fairgrounds for over twenty years

I got a look at Harvey’s proposal. It would guarantee the 22nd DAA a substantial amount of annual revenue, in exchange for Harvey running Horsepark. The only thing the 22nd DAA would be on the hook for would be equipment maintenance (tractors, water truck, etc.). The amount Harvey offered on an annual basis was enough that the 22nd DAA could completely finance reasonable improvements for CAFO water mitigation, and be raking in profits thereafter. If I were on the 22nd DAA board, I’d be running to a lawyer to turn that proposal into a contract because speaking as an experienced commercial barn operator, I can tell you that it is a very good offer.

That the 22nd DAA would sit on such a proposal for 5+ months while Horsepark starts falling apart is unconscionable. 

Slow Grinding Gears

Yesterday, February 23, the 22nd DAA held a special board meeting to discuss putting together an RFP to offer a ground lease to run Horsepark. Presumably this was handled during executive session because nothing was discussed about it during the open session.

But it is enough to pull your hair out. They rushed to close Horsepark with zero public notice, even after they had a generous proposal in hand to keep it open. Then months later they start the process to put together an RFP. Issuing the RFP will probably take a couple of months. Another 2-3 months to take in submissions and review.

And for what? There are only two people who have expressed an interest in running Horsepark, Dale Harvey and Ali Nilforushan. The 22nd DAA already has their proposals. And based on what I’ve seen of Harvey’s proposal, it fixes their CAFO water mitigation problem in addition to making a nice profit for the 22nd DAA.

With “management” like this, I’m starting to see why Horsepark is in the mess it is. Someone at the 22nd DAA needs to take the reins and start making quick business decisions, not continue running this rather large, and bankrupt, enterprise as if it were a dilettante charity board. 

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