In what amounts to another victory in its battle with neighboring Calder Casino & Race Course, Gulfstream Park announced Sept. 19 it will hold the inaugural Sunshine Millions Preview Day on Nov. 9.
The event, featuring eight stakes races for Florida-breeds with total purses of $1 million, replaces the Florida Million that was scheduled for Nov. 9 at Calder.
The shift of the Florida-bred stakes day follows the Sept. 5 announcement that the Florida Sire Stakes would move from Calder to Gulfstream beginning in 2014.
Calder has held that series for 2-year-olds, now known as the Florida Stallion Stakes, since its inception in 1982.
It will hold this year's two final legs of the series on Oct. 12.
Calder has held the Florida Million since its inception in 2002. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association has joined with Calder in paying purse money for the day's stakes races. It will do the same with Gulfstream for the Sunshine Millions Preview Day.
Gulfstream said the Sunshine Millions Preview Day will serve as a prep for the $1.3 million Sunshine Millions that it will hold Jan. 18, 2014.
Calder vice president and general manager for racing John Marshall was not available for comment.
In a statement, he said Calder will now have to re-evaluate its commitment to Florida-bred programs.
"The decision of the FTBOA racing committee to re-allocate breeder enhancement dollars from Calder's Florida Million day to invent a Sunshine Millions Preview Day at Gulfstream Park furthers the need for Calder to re-examine its participation in developing Florida-breds," Marshall said,
"This decision, coupled with the FTBOA's choice to relocate the Florida Sire Stakes requires Calder to take a more calculated look at its 2-year-old stall allocations for the winter/spring meet.
He added: "Though we disagree with the FTBOA's rationale behind re-allocating funds in the middle of the race meet, we are glad that the newly-named Sunshine Millions Preview Day will carry on the tradition of supporting Florida-breds as Calder's 2-year-old program did for decades."
It was widely anticipated that the Florida Million races would stay at Calder this year, and move to Gulfstream starting in 2014.
Finances apparently accelerated the move.
"It is my understanding that Calder wanted to cut the purses, and the breeders were not happy about it," said trainer David Fawkes. "I think the move is great.
Gulfstream is willing to support and promote these races. There will be a bigger crowd at Gulfstream."
Fawkes trains Larry Fugate's Cash Rules, the winner of last year's Florida Million featured $150,000 Carl G. Rose Classic at 1 1/16 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds and up.
Gulfstream's Nov. 9 feature with the same conditions will be the $150,000 Millions Classic Preview.
"We expect he (Cash Rules) will be back for it," Fawkes said.
is in Hallandale Beach, Fla., eight miles east of Calder in Miami Gardens, Fla.
They have been racing head-to-head on Saturdays and Sundays since July 6 and are scheduled to continue that competition through next June 30.
Through 11 weekends, Gulfstream has had average daily all-sources handle of about $2.4 million, compared with about $1.2 million for Calder.
"We would like to thank the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association and Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association for working with us to put on another great day of racing," said Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo.
"We look forward to developing more series like this to showcase Florida-breds and continue making them a prominent part of our program," he added.
Lonny Powell, the Florida TBOA executive director, was traveling and not available for comment on the reasons for the shift.
In a statement, he said the Florida TBOA feels that moving the stakes day to Gulfstream will be "great for our racing and breeding industry. We thank Gulfstream and the FHBPA for coming together on this day and including our state-breds in such a prominent and lucrative fashion."
Kent Stirling, executive director of the FHBPA, said, "The horsemen are happy the newly named Sunshine Millions Preview Day will remain a million-dollar day for Florida-breds."
The eight races comprising the Sunshine Millions Preview Day are:
--$150,000 Millions Classic Preview: 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles
--$150,000 Millions Distaff Preview: 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles
--$125,000 Millions Turf Preview, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles
--$125,000 Millions Filly & Mare Turf Preview, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles
--$125,000 Juvenile Sprint, 2-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs
--$125,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint, 2-year-old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs
--$100,000 Juvenile Turf, 2-year-olds, one mile
--$100,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf, 2-year-old fillies, one mile