Calder Casino & Race Course announced Feb. 26 that it will allow Calder-based horses to return to its grounds after they race at other tracks, including Gulfstream Park. Horses that return from other tracks will continue to use assigned stalls, the track said.
On Feb. 22, Calder announced a ban on returning shippers effective Feb. 26. That ban, now apparently just for one day, did not include graded stakes races.
Calder, in Miami Gardens, Fla., is eight miles west of Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
“We know this has been a confusing time for the horsemen who participate in the racing programs at both Calder and Gulfstream Park, and we are returning to our normal stable-area ship-in policies so we can avoid impacting their operational routines,” said John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager, in a statement.
“Calder wants what’s best for South Florida racing,” Marshall said. “We continue to look at our racing schedule for the coming year, and as in prior years, we will do what’s right for the South Florida racing community, including Calder, its horsemen and racing fans.”
Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream’s vice president of racing, said: “We’re very happy Calder has lifted the restriction because we don’t want the horsemen to suffer or our business.”
No doubt because of the ban on returning shippers, only 13 Calder-based horses were entered in Gulfstream’s eight non-stakes races on Feb. 26. Five of the 13 scratched.
Trainer David Fawkes sent two horses from his Calder stable to run in non-stakes races.
“I expected they would lift the ban soon, if not today,” he said. “If they didn’t, I have a farm where I can send the horses.”
Fawkes noted that some trainers would not have that option.
“This whole thing is bad for everyone, especially the smaller barns,” Fawkes said. “This is between the tracks. They are using the horsemen as pawns.”
Calder put in its ban on shippers returning amid its dispute with Gulfstream over racing dates in southeast Florida.
A meeting in Louisville Feb. 25 between MI Developments chairman Frank Stronach and Churchill Downs Inc. chief operating officer Bill Carstanjen ended without resolving the dispute between the companies’ southeast Florida tracks.
Last week, in reaction to the disagreement, Calder said it would not allow horses that ship from Calder to race at Gulfstream to return to its Miami Gardens facility.
The dates dispute began Dec. 31 when Gulfstream, in a preliminary filing with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, said it would begin its next racing season Dec. 2.
For the past decade, Gulfstream has raced from early January through late April and Calder has raced the remainder of the year.
In their latest preliminary filings, both tracks said they plan to race at least two days each week during the 12 months beginning July 1, 2011.
Gulfstream and Calder have until 5 p.m. Feb. 28 to submit their final date filings to the Florida DPMW for the 12 months beginning July 1.
Florida Thoroughbred tracks choose their own dates, with automatic approval from the Florida DPMW.