Gulfstream Park on Dec. 16 announced its 2011 wagering menu that will include its first Pick 5, with a 50-cent minimum bet, and a major reduction of its Pick 6 minimum bet from $2 to 10 cents.
The Hallandale Beach track will hold its 2011 meet from Jan. 5 through April 24.
In another development, officials of Gulfstream and of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association told The Blood-Horse that they have signed all necessary 2011 contracts--but only through Feb. 28,
The contracts are for purses, simulcasts and advance deposit wagering. Gulfstream and the Florida HPBA always have contracts for a full calendar year, to include financial and operational matters that extend beyond the close of the live race meet.
But for 2011, it appears that Gulfstream and its parent MI Developments (MID) want to get an early agreement with the Florida HBPA on possibly holding races after 7 p.m.
Florida laws prohibit Thoroughbred tracks from having races after 7 p.m. Gulfstream and MID are hoping that the 2011 Florida Legislature will change that rule. The legislature will hold its 2011 general session from March 8 through May 7. If it authorizes post-7 p.m. racing, Gulfstream would be able to begin it during its 2012 meet.
Gulfstream’s Pick 5 will have 15% takeout, which it calls a “record low.”
It will add an early Pick 4, on the second to fifth races. The minimum bet will be 50 cents, the same as on the holdover Pick 4 on the last four races. Gulfstream will again have rolling Daily Doubles and Pick 3s.
It is considering the addition of rolling superfectas, said Tim Ritvo, MID’s vice president of East Coast racing which includes Gulfstream.
Win, Place, Show, Daily Double, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta and Pick 3s will be a $1 minimum wager.
But for many on-track, simulcast and ADW bettors, the biggest attention will be on the New Pick 5 and the low Pick 6 minimum that will in effect open that wager to bettors who feel that a $2 minimum, with part-wheels, is not affordable.
“We’re optimistic and excited about the new wagers we’re introducing and the fact Gulfstream will be offering many of the lowest takeouts in the country,” said Steve Calabro, President and GM of Gulfstream Park. “We think the Pick 5, Pick4’s and 10 cent Pick 6 creates more opportunities for our fans.”
Gulfstream will start each day with a 12:55 p.m., first race post time. The early Pick 4 will begin with the second race while the late Pick 4 will be on the last four races. The Pick 5 will be on the day’s last five races and the Pick 6 on the day’s last six. The Pick 5, Pick 4 and Pick 6 wagers will be accepted only at self-service terminals.
The entire 10 cents Pick 6 will be awarded only to one unique ticket. On days there are multiple winners, 60% of the pool will be shared equally while 40% goes back into the jackpot
Florida HBPA President Sam Gordon said that in talks through the first half of December, Gulfstream Chairman Frank Stronach said that for 2011 he wanted to sign contracts through just part of the meet while continuing to talk on wider issues.
“Frank said he wanted to keep brainstorming and talk after January 1 about things that could be done to improve horse racing,” Gordon said.
Gordon added that Stronach had mentioned possible plans for “twilight racing” and other issues that would include Gulfstream’s 2012 meet. Gordon said he expects that early in 2011 Gulfstream and the Florida HBPA will agree to full 2011 contracts.
“The horsemen have always had a good relationship with Gulfstream, and everyone wants to get the meet off to a good start,” Gordon said. “We suggested signing contracts through Feb. 28, and continue talking. They agreed.”
In a statement, Calabro and Ritvo said: “Gulfstream Park wants to spend quality time with the horsemen in January and February brainstorming on ways to improve the sport of racing. We appreciate the horsemen working with us on a contract and partnering with us in the upcoming months.”
Gulfstream would need to install lights for racing after 7 p.m.
“The twilight racing would not be full cards of night racing,” Gordon said. “I expect that once a week they would maybe have a later start with some races between 7 and 8.”
Gordon and Kent Stirling, the Florida HPBA’s executive director, said the 2011 Gulfstream contracts are the same as in 2010. That includes a 9% host fee from ADWs, with an even split between Gulfstream operations and its race purses.