In an announcement Sept. 28, Calder Casino & Race Course said that effective Dec. 1, 2012, it will charge a stabling fee of $10 per stall per day during its off-season months when it does not have live racing.
Calder, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., will charge those rents through April 5, 2013, the closing day of the 2012-13 race meet at Gulfstream Park. Horsemen were notified during a meeting just before a release was issued.
Track officials said the fees will assist it with offsetting a portion of stable area operating costs when there is no live racing. Citing operating costs and maintenance, Calder said it was faced with a decision to either close its stable area during its off season or start charging an off-season fee.
Calder will continue its long-standing policy of not charging owners or trainers for stall space during its racing season.
Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said that as the news spread several trainers told him off-season rent could make it difficult for them to stay at Calder. Several have asked for his assistance in finding stall space at Gulfstream or at Tampa Bay Downs, he said.
In its announcement, Calder noted that horsemen have alternatives in southeast Florida where they also would pay stall rent, including Palm Meadows at $15 per day; Palm Beach Downs at $10 per day; and Payson Park, where rates vary.
Stirling said that "if you can get into other tracks or training centers you'd rather pay to be there than pay at Calder where they have let a lot of things run down."
He noted that the fees would have a big impact, in proportion, for some smaller stables. As an example, a trainer with five horses would have a weekly fee of $350.
Calder has often noted that it is rare among U.S. Thoroughbred tracks in having its stables open year-round and not charging for stalls.