Gulfstream Park announced July 13 it will offer a $500 bonus for each horse a trainer runs at the South Florida track, with restrictions.
The horse must be stabled at Gulfstream Park at the time it has been entered and only one bonus award is available per owner per race, so a trainer will receive only $500 even if he runs two horses for one owner.
"This is not a purse increase but a direct incentive to our trainers to race their horses at our summer meet," said Gulfstream Park president Tim Ritvo. "The bonus money is intended to help those trainers offset the ever increasing costs of workers' compensation insurance, shavings, feed, and other expenses during this meet."
The Hallandale Beach track is running its first summer meet this year, which extends through Nov. 29. Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course, which is eight miles away and traditionally ran Florida's summer dates, are now running head-to-head.
"Workers' compensation insurance costs are often the make-or-break expenses for a trainer and the difference between a profit or loss year," Ritvo said. "This bonus is intended as a means to keep our trainers in the black while we continue to search for a long-term solution."
How long the bonus will be available has not been determined.
Florida trainers have been struggling with rising costs for years, especially with worker's compensation, said Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
"Offering this bonus was the simplest and most effective way to get the job done, and the horsemen really appreciate Gulfstream's consideration," Combest said.