By Scott Davis
Calder Race Course was forced to close for both live racing and simulcasting from Friday, Sept. 3 through Sunday, Sept. 5 due to the effects of Hurricane Frances.
The track, located near the border between Miami-Dade and Broward counties, sustained only minimal structural damage but, according to president Ken Dunn, likely lost substantial revenue.
"Physically we were very luck with only a few trees down and lots of debris," Dunn said as the track prepared to reopen on Monday, "But when you lose an entire Labor Day weekend it's something you can't replace."
Although the economic impact was not immediately available, Dunn estimates that the loss of revenue could approximate $500,000. Worse, with Hurricane Frances having affected virtually the entire state of Florida over a prolonged period, intra-state wagering on Calder's subsequent racing programs will suffer.
Dunn said he will discuss with officials from Churchill Downs Inc., Calder's parent company, options to minimize the financial impact by running additional races and/or additional racing dates during the four months remaining in its meet. "But you can't make up for the Saturday of a holiday weekend by running on a Tuesday in November," he noted.
Calder's second annual "Juvenile Showcase," a 13-race card of all 2-year-olds featuring the second legs of the prestigious Florida Stallion Stakes series, was pushed back from Saturday to Monday. As a result, the traditional Labor Day feature, the Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) was postponed until Sept. 11.
Meanwhile, some eight miles east at Gulfstream Park, damage was minimal reported track president Scott Savin. "We had some standing water and some trees down but nothing that's going to slow us down," he said, adding that the schedule for the ongoing re-construction effort was not affected.