Directors of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have instructed their attorney to draft a formal letter of complaint to the State of Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering requesting that Hialeah Park's permit be pulled.
Hialeah Park may close for good when the historic South Florida racetrack ends its meet May 22. Efforts by track owner John Brunetti to restore the regulation of racing dates failed, so he said he'll start making plans to develop the property.
In an April 17 letter to Hialeah chairman John Brunetti, Tom Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., flatly denied allegations of collusion with Magna Entertainment Corp. in their filings for 2002 racing dates for their Florida properties. Churchill Downs owns Calder Race Course, and Magna Entertainment owns Gulfstream Park.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has announced the winners of its annual board of directors election, but a protest already has been filed, and there are allegations that racetrack officials attempted to influence voters.
With a strong racetrack event schedule already in place, and an establishment marketing plan to boot, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association isn't expected to rejoin the National Thoroughbred Racing Association during the current meet at Gulfstream Park. The Hallandale track is owned by Magna Entertainment, which rejoined the NTRA in mid-January.
The opening salvos were fired in what could be a bloody war when Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park each filed with the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering plans to expand their live racing dates by approximately one month during the fiscal year that ends June 1, 2002. Unless altered by the deadline of March 31, 2001, Gulfstream will operate from Jan. 3 through April 20, 2002. Calder will run its usual Tropical-at-Calder dates in 2001-02, then open for its "summer" meet April 26, 2002. Both of those periods encroach on Hialeah Park.
A Lille Luck rallied in the stretch to win the $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) by a length over Stokosky on Saturday at Calder Race Course. The Barclay Tagg-trained gelding rallied in the stretch under jockey Mike Smith to catch second-place finisher Stokosky, finishing the 1 1/2-mile race in 2:29.01 on a firm turf course.
The parade of longshot winners on Saturday's Grand Slam II program at Calder Race Course continued in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap(gr. III), in which 76-1 American Halo held off General Grant and Sir Bear to win by a half-length. Under Charlene Hunt, American Halo completed the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:51.68 on a fast track.
England's Rose rallied from last to win the seven-furlong $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap (gr. III) by 1 1/2 lengths over heavy favorite Swept Away Saturday at Calder Race Course. The longest shot on the board at nearly 17-1, England's Rose paid $35, $6.60, and $2.10 and stopped the timer in 1:24.82.
Eighth early on in the field of 10, Prospectress moved into contention on the final turn en route to winning the $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT) by a head over Innuendo Saturday at Calder. Under Jerry Bailey, Prospectress covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.97 on firm turf.
Florida-breds horses racing under saddle cloth three swept all four legs of the Grand Slam I races at Calder Saturday and the pick four linking those races returned a healthy $6,678.60 for each $1 wagered.
On Saturday, Calder Race Course hosts Grand Slam I, with four stakes races offered with purses of $100,000 each. The four Grand Slam I races, consisting of three graded stakes and the Three Ring Stakes, will comprise a $100,000 guaranteed pick four.
For the next two weekends, the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network will offer a pick-three wager linking turf races from Calder Race Course, Churchill Downs, and Hollywood Park. The wager carries a minimum bet of $1 and will link Calder's 11th race, Churchill's 10th race, and the fifth race from Hollywood Park.
Calder Race Course announced Tuesday that two turf stakes races scheduled for Saturday have been postponed due to heavy precipitation in the area in recent days. Ironically, the races comprised a part of Calder's "Festival of the Sun" card.