Gulfstream Offers First of Many Summer Dates

Gulfstream Offers First of Many Summer Dates
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Gulfstream Park had all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $1,986,428  for eight races June 25 as it held the first summer racing day in its 75-year history.

The Tuesday afternoon program was officially an extra and final day in the Hallandale Beach, Fla,. track's 2012-13 meet that ended April 5. By running the extra day, Gulfstream was able to serve as a host  track from late May through June 25 for bringing in simulcast signals from Thoroughbred tracks outside Florida.

"Being it was a Tuesday, we're overwhelmed with the positive response from our guests and horsemen," Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said. "We're looking forward to the opening of our summer meet on Monday, July 1."

Gulfstream estimated attendance at 700–lower than its average on weekdays during its winter meets. But in June, the Miami area has far fewer of the tourists and wintertime residents who are a big part of Gulfstream's attendance during its December-to-early-April race meets.

According to Equibase charts, Gulfstream's live handle was $149,015. Inter-track handle at other Florida pari-mutuel outlets was $70,806. Interstate wagering at sites outside Florida and through advance deposit wagering services was $1,766,608.

Gulfstream raced on a day when Parx Racing in Pennsylvania was its biggest  competitor for simulcast and ADW bettors. According to Equibase, Parx had all-sources handle of $1,247,545 for nine races June 25; that number is down 22% from $1,608,503 for nine races June 18.

For one day, that was an indication of the national attraction of  the Gulfstream brand–even without the top horses. A big test will come starting July 6, when Gulfstream begins Saturday and Sunday racing in competition with such popular signals as Belmont Park and later in the summer, Saratoga Race Course.

Gulfstream's June 25 card also was a test of the $3 million drainage system it put  in for its summer meet, when it and neighbor Calder Casino & Race Course are both scheduled to have racing on Saturdays and Sundays.

Officials at the two tracks are still having telephone conversations aimed at avoiding the head-to-head racing they are set to begin July 6. But as of June 25, it appeared that the two tracks will at least start their schedules as planned.

In recent months, Calder has rejected several offers Gulfstream has made to lease some Calder race dates and move them to Calder–in the process canceling plans for the overlap in dates.

While Ritvo said he was pleased with the all-sources handle, it is difficult to find comparisons to determine the success of the day, Gulfstream has had average daily all-sources handle of more than $7 million during its last three winter meets. That includes some days when weekday all-sources handle is more than $3 million.

Owner Frank Calabrese, trainer Peter Walder, and jockey Juan Leyva were among those who complimented Gulfstream on its new dirt surface.

Gulfstream will begin its summer/fall meet July 1 and have racing July 4 before it begins its Saturday and Sunday schedule through late November. The traditional winter meet at Gulfstream will begin Nov. 30.

Edgard Zayas rode winners in three of the eight Gulfstream races. Two were for the combination of trainer Kirk ZIadie and owner Calabrese. Each is the leader in wins in his category at this year's Calder meet. The trio combined to win the Gulfstream feature with Musical Flair, who beat Buzz the Deputy by  a nose in a 6 1/2 furlong allowance event with a $35,000 purse.

Calder was dark June 25 and allowed horses stabled there to van to Gulfstream and then return. Horses stabled at Calder won five of Tuesday's eight races.

If the tracks race head-to-head, Gulfstream has agreed to let horses stabled at its track race at Calder and then return.  But Calder has not agreed to that open access. In the face of  that situation, Calabrese is among several owners who recently moved horses from Calder to Gulfstream.

Calabrese has all 49 of his southeast Florida horses at Gulfstream, with ZIadie as his primary trainer. He said he will run  them primarily at Gulfstream, but also ship some to Calder.

Gulfstream has about 300 horses stabled on its grounds. By early July it hopes to bring in at least 400 horses whose owners and trainers would move their bases from Calder, if they anticipate that Calder will not allow open access for shipping.

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