Gulfstream to Add Summit of Speed Stakes
Gulfstream Park in early July plans to run most if not all of the seven Summit of Speed sprint stakes that been scheduled for July 5 at neighboring Calder Casino & Race Course, according to Gulfstream vice president of racing P.J. Campo.
Calder announced June 16 that it will not hold the Summit of Speed this year "because of its pending racing dates deal with nearby Gulfstream Park."
The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering reportedly is ready to approve that agreement under which Gulfstream would lease and run the racing operations of Calder. Upon that approval, the Miami-area tracks plan to quickly end the head-to-head weekend racing they began in July 2013.
If the Florida DPMW approves the agreement during the week of June 16, which is widely expected, then Sunday, June 29 would be Calder's last day of racing until this October.
Gulfstream might run some Summit of Speed races July 5 and other stakes on other weekend days in July, Campo said. For this year, the Summit's four graded stakes would be run under different names and would be non-graded. The graded stakes purses, scheduled to be at least $150,000 per race would be reduced--probably to $75,000 or $100,000.
Even with a one-year lapse the four races would retain their graded status. Gulfstream expects to bring them back with graded status in 2015, Campo said.
Because of the short planning timeframe this year, Gulfstream officials said the track would not able to do its regular work in contacting out-of-town trainers who would bring horses in for the Summit graded stakes. Gulfstream also does not have lead time for its always-thorough marketing of a major stakes day to national bettors and local fans.
Officials of Gulfstream, Calder and the Florida DPMW would not comment on the regulators' review process.
But Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said June 15: "From what I have been told by both tracks, the chances that the state (regulators) will approve the deal are very probable."
On May 28, Calder's parent Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that it has a binding agreement with Gulfstream's parent The Stronach Group, subject to approval by the Florida DPMW. Central elements in the agreement are:
—Gulfstream and its parent, The Stronach Group, would lease Calder's operations from CDI;
—CDI would retain ownership of Calder, including its casino; and
—Calder would have racing 40 days, in October and November, and Gulfstream would race during the other weeks. There would be no overlap. The agreement would be for six years.
Calder began its annual Summit of Speed in 2000.
Calder had scheduled these seven races for July 5: $300,000 Smile Sprint Stakes (gr. II), $300,000 Princess Rooney Stakes (gr. III), $150,000 Azalea Stakes (gr. III), $150,000 Carry Back Stakes (gr. III), $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint, $80,000 J J'sdream Stakes, and $80,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes.
The Princess Rooney (fillies and mares 3-years-olds and up), the Smile (3-year-olds and up), the Carry Back (3-year-olds) and the Azalea (3-year-old fillies) are six furlongs on dirt.
Bill White and Kirk Ziadie are among South Florida-based trainers who have been planning to run horses in several of those races. Each said that they and their horses' owners are disappointed in not having a chance to run in a graded local stakes--while welcoming the trade-off of an end of head-to-head weekend racing,
"This is giving up something in the short run, and everyone understands that it is a consequence of the settlement that provides long-term stability," White said.
Gulfstream is in Hallandale Beach, Fla., eight miles east of Calder in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Trainer David Fawkes provided a concise overview on what having just one track running will mean for racing in South Florida.
"There will be bigger fields, that will lead to more handle and to higher purses," he said. "It will be good for everyone."
Since they began racing against each other, Gulfstream has consistently led Calder by margins of 3-to-1 or higher in daily all-sources handle.
One example was June 7. According to Equibase charts, Gulfstream had all-sources handle of approximately $4.7 million for 10 races—an average of $470,000 per race. Calder had all-sources handle of approximately $1.3 million for eight races, for an average of $130,000 per race.
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