In a move that sets up a possible battle with Calder Casino & Race Course over racing dates, Gulfstream Park has told the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering that it plans to hold racing in December 2011.
According to a report in Daily Racing Form, Gulfstream on Dec. 31 submitted a preliminary filing in which it said it intends to have racing from Dec. 2, 2011 through April 8, 2012. For more than a decade, Calder has exclusively run the December dates in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla., market.
Gulfstream officials declined to comment on the filing with the Florida DPMW, and officials of Gulfstream’s parent MI Developments (MID) could not be reached on Jan. 1. Sources familiar with the filing said that Gulfstream did include the December 2011 dates. The Florida DPMW was closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager of racing, said he could not confirm reports that Gulfstream had filed for December 2011 dates.
Marshall said Calder has submitted a preliminary filing in which it plans to race from April 25, 2011 through Jan. 4, 2012.
He said Calder, a subsidiary of Churchill Downs Inc., “intends to run our traditional dates,” even if that means it would run to-to-head with Gulfstream in late 2011.
Calder, in Miami Gardens, is eight miles due west of Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach.
Since a deregulation in 2002, Florida Thoroughbred tracks have selected their racing dates rather than the previous process of state regulators allocating dates.
Gulfstream, Calder, and Tampa Bay Downs have until Jan. 4, 2011 to submit preliminary date filings for the 12 months beginning July 1, 2011. They have until Feb. 28, 2011 to submit final 2011-2012 date filings to the Florida DPMW.
“We suspected that Gulfstream might do this (file for December 2011 dates),” Marshall said. “But Gulfstream and its parent did not talk with us or with Churchill Downs Inc. prior to any filings. We feel that what they are doing is another example of their irrational and sometimes reckless behavior.”
Frank Stronach, chairman of Gulfstream and of MID, has said numerous times that he would like to expand the racing schedule of Gulfstream and some other MID tracks.
On Dec. 22, Tim Ritvo, MID’s vice president of East Coast racing operations, told The Blood-Horse: “There is a possibility that Mr. Stronach would consider racing late in a year, if it is determined that it would be in the best interests of Gulfstream and South Florida racing.”
December has traditionally been a month in which Calder has had some of its richest stakes, with fields including horses that have been shipped south for winter racing. It also has been a month in which Calder has raced five days a week—with allowance and claiming races for Florida-based owners and trainers.
“We have maintained a schedule that we feel has been in the best interest of racing and horsemen,” Marshall said.
Calder will end its 2010-2011 season on Jan. 4. Gulfstream will open its season on Jan. 5 and run through April 24.