Gulfstream Handle Higher As Duel Continues

Gulfstream Handle Higher As Duel Continues
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Gulfstream Park racing.

Gulfstream Park was the runaway wagering winner in southeast Florida's second weekend of head-to-head racing as it generated all-sources pari-mutuel handle almost four times that of nearby Calder Casino & Race Course.

For July 13-14 combined, Gulfstream reported all-sources handle of approximately $5.5 million for 18 races. A review of  Equibase charts showed Calder with all-sources handle of  just over $1.4 million for 17 races over the two days.

The numbers indicate the popularity of Gulfstream's brand name with simulcast and ADW bettors–even during its first summer meet when it lacks the star horses of its traditional race meets between December and early April. Both tracks moved all scheduled turf races to dirt each day due to rain July 13  and drying out conditions July 14.

The weekend's only stakes was the ungraded Cellars Shiraz at Gulfstream July 13.

Saturday July 13

Gulfstream reported all-sources handle of $2,932,968 for nine races. Breakdowns of live and off-track handle were not readily available.

Gulfstream offered purses of $277,450 including $75,000 for the Cellars Shiraz. There were a total of 62  starters and 10 scratches.

A review of Equibase charts showed Calder with all-sources handle of approximately $790,000, and about $144,000 in purses. There were 57 starters and 15 scratches that were mostly in races taken off  the turf.

Sunday July 14

Gulfstream reported all-sources handle of $2,571,315 for eight races, with $210,000 in purses. There were 64 starters and seven scratches.

A review of Equibase charts showed Calder with all-sources handle of about $640,000 and $131,000 in purses. There were 56 starters and 10 scratches.

The July 13-14 numbers were verification for those who expected Calder, with the exception of Saturdays with major stakes, to lag behind Gulfstream in handle. That has led to renewed speculation about whether Calder and its parent, Churchill Downs Inc., might be willing to back away from same-day racing and lease some dates to Gulfstream, which is owned by The Stronach Group.

In May and June, Calder considered but did not accept several offers from Gulfstream to lease racing dates and racing operationsand thus avoid any same-day racing. Calder officials were not available for comment.

Overview

Gulfstream is in Hallandale Beach and Calder is eight miles west in Miami Gardens. After both tracks were unable to resolve a dispute over racing dates, the two separately chose to race each Saturday and Sunday from this July through the end of June 2014.

Sunday June 30 was the last weekend day when Calder raced without opposition from Gulfstream. Calder had about $915,000 in all-sources handle.

Head-to-head racing began July 6, with Calder having an estimated $4 million in all-sources handle on 11 races on its Summit of Speed program with four graded stakes. Gulfstream reported all-sources handle of $2,153,818 for eight races with no stakes. On-track handle on live races was $113,925 at Gulfstream.

Both tracks had eight races and no stakes July 7. Gulfstream reported all-sources handle of $2,116,397, with $90,101 bet on-track on its races. Calder had all-sources handle of about $975,000.

One problem widely expected for the second weekend was the short fields that averaged about seven horses per race at both tracks, but Gulfstream appears to be gaining an edge in number of on-site horses.

The weekend of July 13-14 several trainers including Bill Kaplan joined those who have moved all of  their horses from Calder to Gulfstream. A main reason for the shift is Calder's "restricted access policy" for shippers.

Except in designated situations, including the lack of a Calder race with the same condition, a Calder-based trainer who races a horse at Gulfstream will not be allowed to bring it back to Calder to train. Gulfstream allows trainers to race at Calder and bring a horse back to Gulfstream to train.

Gulfstream officials said July 14 the track has full capacity of 1,100 horses in its stables. That is an increase from about 250 from late June.

In late June Calder had about 1,700 horses in its stables. The number of horses as of July 15 was not readily available.

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