Finally! It’s been two years since the 22nd DAA shut down the Del Mar Horsepark, and we’ve been through inaction, aborted bid processes, and winning bidders pulling out.
But all that is in the past, and the new Horsepark operator, HITS, itself under new management, is now starting major renovations.
High End Drainage/Irrigation
When I visited Horsepark last Friday, I found several bulldozers hard at work. Peter Englehart, HITS’ Chief Development Officer, said that when he recently visited Horsepark he found all arena footing was “like concrete”. HITS is not only going to be replacing all footing, but they are going to go the extra several miles and install a state of the art ebb and flow underground irrigation and drainage system under each ring in addition to new high end geotex amended footing. Among other things, this means no more water trucks!
Ring fencing, stalls, and structures are all getting attention. Even the RV parking area is going to get an upgrade.
HITS has USEF hunter/jumper dates starting July 2023, and they aim to be ready for business then. They plan on renting out the facility to other types of equestrian shows (dressage, western, county shows) whenever they aren’t running their own USEF shows. Show organizers looking to book shows at Horsepark should contact Andrea Wells, HITS Facility Rental Coordinator.
The plan is to use the entire grounds and stall space for exhibitors, save maybe a small area for therapeutic riding. Since Horsepark is so expansive and has so many rings, it is possible they could run two smaller show simultaneously, like a dressage show and a county hunter/jumper show.
For now, HITS is focused on using the facility for equestrian events.
Traub Capital Partners
When you think of HITS, you think of Tom Struzzieri, its longtime owner/operator. But Tom sold a majority stake in HITS to Traub Capital Partners in March of this year and recently stepped down as CEO.
Traub is an investment firm that also owns Signature Brands (Betty Crocker, Cake Mate, Pumpkin Masters), among others. Englehart says he sees their HITS holding as a premier property in the “enthusiast” investment space. He likens it to when he was personally involved in 2006 in the endurance sports industry when he was part of a group that bought Elite Racing and ran the Rock and Roll Marathon among many other iconic race series.
HITS, the 22nd DAA and the Future
I was genuinely worried that we were never going to see Horsepark back online again. The 22nd DAA only ever cared about using it as a parking lot during the Fair. Their RFP was so one sided that, in the end, even the winning bidder decided the risk working with the 22nd DAA was too high.
Englehart says their plan is to invest so much into Horsepark that the 22nd DAA won’t have a choice but to extend their ground lease well past the initial five year term. He says there are risks in every business, but that this is a risk they feel they can manage.
With the sale of Thermal three years ago, HITS was without a west coast presence. They aim to make Horsepark their crown jewel west coast anchor and plan on being part of the west coast horse community for a long time.
In the next month or so we should see artist drawings of what HITS’ vision is for the property. From what I’ve heard so far, it is off to a great start.