Gulfstream Adds Fridays to Spring Schedule

Gulfstream Adds Fridays to Spring Schedule
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Gulfstream Park has received permission from Florida racing regulators to add 10 Fridays and one Monday to its racing schedule from April 18-June 27.

The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on April 2 approved Gulfstream's application to add those dates. The Hallandale Beach, Fla., track had been scheduled to have racing only on Saturdays and Sundays during the 11 weeks.

Gulfstream will add every Friday except May 23. Over that weekend it will have racing on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.

With that change, Gulfstream will have racing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through this November. That is the same schedule as its southeast Florida neighbor Calder Casino & Race Course.

Calder, in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Gulfstream reportedly have resumed discussions aimed at calling off their head-to-head racing or at least reducing the number of overlap dates. They began head-to-head weekend racing last July and are scheduled to continue that competition through June 2015.

Gulfstream had racing five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, during the first three months of this yearthe height of its winter racing season.

For the first two weeks of April, it has reduced its schedule to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The Florida government's fiscal years are from July 1 through June 30.

Under state laws a pari-mutuel can add or reduce race dates in the midst of a fiscal year only if it receives permission from all other pari-mutuels within its 50-mile radius. If there are any objections the Florida DPMW can approve the dates change if it anticipates a positive economic impact to the state, such as higher handle that would result in higher revenues and an increase in tax payments.

Calder objected to Gulfstream's application for 11 additional dates. So did Mardi Gras Casino, a Greyhound track located less than two miles from Gulfstream.

In its April 2 notice, the Florida DPMW said its review of recent and projected handle indicates a positive impact of $70,000 in state revenues. That is the difference between a projected increase from Gulfstream and a projected decline from Calder.

The Florida DPMW apparently noticed Gulfstream's significant lead over Calder in all-sources handle.

A review of Equibase Co. charts shows that Gulfstream had about $2.5 million in daily average all-sources handle compared with about $1.2 million for Calder from July through November last year.

Since then, Gulfstream has significantly increased that advantage. In February and March, it led Calder by margins of six-to-one or more in average all-sources handle per race, according to the Equibase figures.
 
An example was Sunday, March 30, the most recent racing day at either track.

Gulfstream that day had $9.6 million in all-sources handle for 11 racesaveraging about $870,000 per race. Calder had about $800,000 in all-sources handle for eight races, averaging $100,000 per race.

That margin will undoubtedly become smaller. Many of the country's top trainers have completed the annual early spring move of their stables from Gulfstream back to tracks in northern states, and Gulfstream has ended its stretch of weekends with graded stakes.

Gulfstream will officially end its winter meet April 6. It will have stakes races with $75,000 purses each Saturday and several Sundays in April.

On April 5, it will have the Mr. Light Stakes at one mile on turf for 3-year-olds, and the Powder Break at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up.

The same day, Calder will have the $250,000 Calder Derby at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds. Thus far, it is Calder's richest stakes race this year.

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