Calder Race Course

Calder Race Course

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Calder Policy Restricts Gulfstream Shipping

Horsemen caught in between as two tracks continue battle over seasonal race dates.

Beginning July 1, Calder Casino & Race Course will prohibit horses stabled at Calder from re-entering its grounds if trainers send them to race at other Florida tracks, it was announced June 28.

Calder, in Miami Gardens, Fla., said it might make limited exceptions to its "restricted access policy" on a case-by-case basis for certain conditions with advance approval from its racing secretary Mike Anifantis.

Lonny Powell, executive director of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners Association, and Phil Combest, president  of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association each said they had hoped that Calder would not put any restrictions on movement of horses among  tracks.

Calder's ban on returning shippers is aimed primarily at its southeast Florida neighbor, Gulfstream Park, and also at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla.

A Gulfstream official said June 28 that if Calder bans the return of shippers, Gulfstream will let those horses remain in its stables and train there. Gulfstream is in  Hallandale Beach, eight miles east of Calder.

Calder is beginning its "restricted access policy" as it  prepares for head-to-head weekend racing with Gulfstream. The two tracks are scheduled to have racing every Saturday and Sunday from July 6-7 through the end of June 2014.

Gulfstream had  previously said that horses stabled there that race at Calder will be allowed to return to Gulfstream.

Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream will both have racing  July 1, a  day when Calder is  dark. As of 4:15 p.m. EDT on June 28, Gulfstream had not released its July 1  entries.

Gulfstream and  Tampa Bay are running July 1 to be  eligible to serve as year-round host tracks for simulcast signals from tracks outside Florida.

In its June 28 statement, Calder said the decision to ban the return of shippers "comes as a direct result of Gulfstream Park's decision to disregard an agreement between the two tracks designed to prevent future race-date disputes and a head-to-head clash."

Calder noted that in 2011 it "traded the more lucrative December dates to Gulfstream for less desirable April dates."

"There is now a greater expectation for horses stabling and training on Calder's property, at Calder's expense, to race at Calder," said John Marshall, Calder's vice president and general manager of racing.

The policy leaves horsemen in a quandary, said the Florida HBPA's Combest.

"This is very disappointing to the horsemen," he said. "In the next  few days, we'll see how this shakes out and how many trainers move over to Gulfstream."

Combest added that "everyone is still hoping they will reach an agreement and avoid head-to-head  racing,"

Powell said that "horses will in effect be trapped at  one of the tracks, due  to a dispute in which the owners and trainers did not have  a part."

He said the Florida TBOA hopes that within several days Calder will permit open access and that the two tracks "will reach a cooperative settlement and avoid having head-to-head racing."

Host  Track Issue

Under their new interpretation of Florida laws, Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs maintain that by running July 1 they  can be  a simulcast host location throughout the Florida fiscal year, from  July 1  to June 30, even when they are not holding traditional race meets.

Calder has previously had a large majority share in the intra-track wagering business, in which a host track sends imported signals to other pari-mutuels in Florida.

In fiscal 2011-2012, total ITW betting on those races was $270 million, with Calder supplying $191 million, according  to  the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. The Blood-Horse estimates that the three tracks had combined revenues of between $15 million and $18 million on that  wagering.