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Gulfstream to Add Stalls for Calder Shippers

The Florida track said Feb. 23 it would add around 200 temporary stalls.

Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23 said it plans to add approximately 200 temporary stalls in its stable area for trainers who send horses from Calder Casino & Race Course to run in Gulfstream races.

Gulfstream made that decision one day after Calder announced that starting Feb. 26 it will not allow Calder-stabled horses that race at Gulfstream during its current meet to re-enter Calder without prior written approval from Calder’s Racing Secretary. Calder’s new policy applies to all horses except those that are vanned from Calder to Gulfstream for graded stakes.

Gulfstream will end its meet April 24, and Calder is scheduled to open its 2011 meet the next day.

Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream’s vice president for racing, said Gulfstream hopes to have the temporary stalls ready by Feb. 26.

In addition, he said about 250 stalls for horses that leave Calder will be available within several days after March 3 at the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach, Fla. On March 3, Palm Meadows will be the site of the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale, and horses in that sale will then leave the training center.

MI Developments of Aurora, Ont., owns Gulfstream and Palm Meadows.

On Feb. 23, Calder officials declined to comment on Gulfstream’s plans to add stalls.

The issues concerning shippers from Calder erupted as the two southeast Florida tracks face a Feb. 28 deadline for giving the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering their final list of race dates for the 12 months beginning July 1.

On Feb. 23, Gulfstream submitted a new filing to start its next race meet Nov. 25. Its prior filing showed it starting Dec. 2. Gulfstream’s new filing also shows it racing four days a week in December 2011.

For more than 20 years, Calder has been the only Miami-area Thoroughbred track to have racing in December.

Calder, a subsidiary of Churchill Downs, has filed for its regular December dates. Its most recent filing shows it racing at least three days a week, for all months but January and February, during the 12 months beginning July 1.

Florida Thoroughbred tracks choose their own dates, with automatic approval from the Florida DPMW.

“We changed our filing to start a week earlier because we feel it is in the best interests of our business,” Ritvo said.

He said that he has heard from MID officials that CDI is not joining MID in its interest to resolve the dispute over December dates.

There is widespread concern that neither track would be able to have large fields and that they would not be able to offer standard purse structures if they raced head-to-head in December.

Calder, in Miami Gardens, Fla, is eight miles west of Gulfstream in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Entries for the Gulfstream card on Feb. 26, a Saturday, were drawn on Feb. 23.

That card provides an indication of the combined impact of the recent steps by Calder and Gulfstream.

The card has eight non-stakes races with 92 entries, including also eligibles. Only 13 entrants showed recent workouts at Calder.

The total numbers and Calder shippers are low, even for a Saturday card that has several allowances that attract trainers who are stabled at Gulfstream and Palm Meadows.

Ritvo said trainers of the Calder shippers have talked with Gulfstream officials, and that they plan to run and keep their horses at Gulfstream.

He expects that Wednesday and Thursday cards, on March 2 and March 3, for which trainers have time to plan will show a clearer picture on the new policies of Calder and Gulfstream.

By then, there is still the slim prospect that Gulfstream and Calder will resolve their disputes over racing dates and shippers.

Amid the disputes, Ritvo said Gulfstream is adding stalls because of the “free enterprise” views of Frank Stronach, the chairman of MID and Gulfstream.

“Mr. Stronach has always felt that horsemen should be able to race their horses wherever they want,” Ritvo said. “Gulfstream would never prevent a horseman from bringing a horse back in if it runs at another track while we are holding a meet.”