Calder Casino & Race Course has gone on the offensive in southeast Florida’s battle over racing dates by telling state regulators it intends to start racing year-round.
Calder listed that plan Jan. 6 in an amended dates filing to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. The Miami Gardens, Fla., track said it will hold races Fridays through Sundays every week from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.
That plan would pit Calder head-to-head with neighbor Gulfstream Park from early January through late April, a period when Gulfstream (since 2002) has held the only Thoroughbred racing in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.
Gulfstream ignited the long-expected dates dispute Dec. 31 with a preliminary filing telling the Florida DPMW it plans to hold races in December 2011. For 20 years, Calder has been the only track in the state with Thoroughbred racing in December.
In its first filing with the Florida DPMW, Calder listed its traditional dates from late April through New Year’s weekend. On Jan. 7, a Calder official said its Churchill Downs Inc. office had received a phone call from MI Developments, Gulfstream’s parent, regarding the dates dispute.
On Jan. 5, Mike Rogers, MID vice president for racing and gaming, said that earlier in the day he left a phone message with Bill Carstanjen, chief operating officer of CDI. Rogers told The Blood-Horse at the time: “We’d like to talk about how we feel that maybe a change might be good for all concerned.”
Rogers said a possible swap of some racing dates is among changes Gulfstream might consider.
Rogers is MID/Gulfstream’s designated spokesperson on the dates negotiations. He did not respond to a Jan. 7 e-mail concerning Calder’s amended dates filing.
But Tim Ritvo, MID vice president of East Coast racing, said Jan. 8 that "there have been talks at the highest levels" between MID and CDI. "We are seeking a realignment, and not trying to take dates from Calder," he said.
John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager for racing, said: “If they were sincere about talking, they would have contacted us before they told regulators of their intention (of filing for December dates)."
Since 2002, Florida Thoroughbred tracks have picked their own race schedules. Previously, the Florida DPMW allocated dates.
Calder and Gulfstream have until Feb. 28 to submit their final dates filings to the Florida DPMW for the fiscal year from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. They can make an unlimited number of preliminary filings.
In its first filing, Gulfstream told the Florida DPMW it plans to race from Dec. 2, 2011, to April 8, 2012. In its first filing, on Dec. 31, Calder’s filing listed April 25, 2011, through Jan. 4, 2012.
Gulfstrream, in Halllandale Beach, Fla., is eight miles east of Calder.