Directors of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have instructed their attorney to draft a formal letter of complaint to the State of Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering requesting that Hialeah Park's permit be pulled.
Gulfstream Park announced that the Florida Derby (gr. I), its premier prep for the Triple Crown, would be run March 16 next year--one week later than usual and seven weeks before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The track also has shifted the dates of other key stakes races.
The doors closed Tuesday on Hialeah Park's 75th -- and possibly its last – live racing meet. With legislation set to take effect on June 30 that discontinues the historic track's exclusive hold on spring racing dates, even the normally optimistic chairman of the board John J. Brunetti was forced to admit the likelihood that Hialeah has hosted its last live race. "By now you have heard that Hialeah Park will probably end its racing career with our last racing day, May 22," he wrote in an open letter printed in the track program, "This is sad, but true."
In an April 25 order, Broward County (Fla.) circuit court judge Patti Englander Henning has granted the defense's motion in the case regarding the ownership of Val's Prince and has ordered a new trial.
Having been rebuffed by State of Florida lawmakers in his efforts to revive legislation that would allow his track exclusive operating dates, Hialeah Park chairman John Brunetti said he does not expect the historic track to open in 2002 or, quite possibly, ever again.
Hialeah Park may close for good when the historic South Florida racetrack ends its meet May 22. Efforts by track owner John Brunetti to restore the regulation of racing dates failed, so he said he'll start making plans to develop the property.
Bill Mott is not a bridge player. He's too busy, he says, overseeing the training of nearly 200 horses at multiple locations around the East Coast. But he well understands the concept of trumping his opponents. Take, for example, the April 21 Hialeah Turf Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) to which Mott nominated three runners.
In an April 17 letter to Hialeah chairman John Brunetti, Tom Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., flatly denied allegations of collusion with Magna Entertainment Corp. in their filings for 2002 racing dates for their Florida properties. Churchill Downs owns Calder Race Course, and Magna Entertainment owns Gulfstream Park.
Like any worthwhile Broadway production, the 2001 version of "Perfect Sting: The Sequel" took its show on the road for tune-ups on April 14 in an effort to iron out any kinks in the act before hitting the Great White Way. And, somewhat to the surprise of the show's director -- trainer Joe Orseno -- the kinks were few.
The Broward County, Fla., Medical Examiners Office has positively identified the body found at the bottom of a South Florida canal Monday as trainer John Tammaro Jr., who had been missing since Feb. 25. There were no signs of trauma or foul play,though routine drug and alcohol tests were performed, and the results are pending.
Though its future is imperiled by the prospect of head-to-head competition from Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course, Hialeah Park posted strong numbers through its first three weeks of live racing. Buoyed by good weather, a resolution of its differences with the local horsemen's association, and an increase in field size, Hialeah recorded a 20% jump in total handle and a 3% increase in on-track attendance.
Though it is always there, shrouding the grounds like the thick Miami springtime humidity, history is never more omnipresent at Hialeah Park than on the day of the Flamingo Stakes (gr. III). The track proudly displayed the epic runs of heroes of old such as Nashua, Northern Dancer, and Spectacular Bid--the last Flamingo winner, in 1979, to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I)--and trotted out Citation's trainer Jimmy Jones to adoring fans. However, the focus on the 2001 edition, held April 7, was on Hialeah's future.
Magna Entertainment officials, fresh off of their initial foray into team racing on March 10 at Gulfstream Park, are planning a second round of their Super Track series, possibly as soon as April in California. Organizers hope to work out some of the kinks that forced cancellation of the event in California in early March.
Magna Entertainment Corp. officials, fresh off of their initial foray into team racing on March 10 at Gulfstream, are planning a second round of their Super Track series, possibly as soon as next month in California.
Although the family of missing trainer John Tammaro Jr. has not given up hope, the city of Hallandale Beach Police Department has had little success in its search for the 75-year-old. "The investigation continues," said police spokesman Andy Kasper, "But we haven't come across anything yet."
A settlement in the dispute regarding underpayment of purses between Hialeah Park and the Florida Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association is near completion, according to FHBPA President Linda Mills.
Allen Jerkens saddled his first winner since a life-threatening illness when first-time starter Shooting Party captured a maiden special weight at Gulfstream on Sunday. "You always need reassurance in this business," said the 72-year-old Hall Of Fame trainer, "No matter how many times you've won, every day you've got to prove your wings."
The whereabouts of John Tammaro Jr. still remained a mystery as of Sunday, one week after the trainer disappeared. "There's been no word and no trace," said son Mike, who traveled from his base in Maryland to South Florida to oversee his father's stable, "We looked at all the canals and I didn't see any place a car might have gone in. I don't think there is anything else we can do."
It had been a trying couple of months for Barbara and Al Smollin and their trainer, Ralph Ziadie. Pointing toward the Feb. 3 Donn Handicap (gr. I) since last summer, Ziadie was forced to scratch Sir Bear when he refused his feed and began acting uncomfortable after workouts leading up to the race. That behavior was a first in the 8-year-old gelding's career that has now encompassed 57 races and 18 wins, including 10 in stakes. Ziadie monitored his condition daily, and refused to speculate on what his next move would be. He even entered Sir Bear in the Feb. 28 $67,575 Cryptoclearance Handicap, ultimately won by Madeleine Paulson and Jenny Craig's Rock and Roll. "I truly don't know," was all the usually gregarious 62-year-old would say when asked when Sir Bear would be ready.
A settlement has been reached between Hialeah Park and the Florida Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association in the dispute regarding underpayment of purses. The FHBPA had filed suit against Hialeah, claiming that the track shortchanged horsemen by about $500,000 in 2000 purses. Hialeah management asserted that, if anything, purses were overpaid from the agreement reached in March 2000 with the horsemen.
In the moments after Inexplicable's very explicable win in the Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Feb. 24, trainer Christophe Clement was once and for all going to explain his secret for getting optimum performances from horses returning from layoffs. "My secret with layoff runners," he began straight-faced, with a crowd of reporters moving in closer to hear his pearl of wisdom, "is to be stabled next to Bill Mott."
After months of negotiations, Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs will begin swapping signals on Feb. 17 as the result of a simulcasting agreement executed Friday. "The final hurdle was just the clarification of some language concerning the Florida statutes," said Gulfstream's president Scott Savin, who added that the bulk of the negotiations were handled through the California- based Simulcasting Department of Magna Entertainment Corporation, Gulfstream's parent track.
Attorneys for the State of Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and trainer Frank Passero reached a settlement in the matter of a positive drug test on a Passero runner. In an administrative complaint filed last March, the Division alleged that a urine test on Hope In Private following his win Gulfstream's fifth race on Feb. 13, 2000 was found to contain Benzoylecgonine and Ecgonine Methyl Ester, both of which are metabolites of cocaine.
They are all far too diplomatic to mention it, of course. Both Bill Mott and Pat Day spent the better part of 20 minutes, after the Mott-saddled Subtle Power capitalized on a rail-skimming ride from Day to win the Feb. 10 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT), denying that there was any special satisfaction that came from defeating Jerry Bailey on even-money Ciro.
Patrons at Gulfstream Park can watch and bet on races from tracks as far away as Cessnock in Australia, but are unable to do the same on Tampa Bay Downs due to the lack of a simulcasting agreement between the tracks. "It just seems like it isn't the highest priority to them," said Gulfstream president Scott Savin, who indicated that the conflict was not over money, "They have just delayed it continually for no good reason I can understand."
When newly turned 4-year-olds Captain Steve and Albert the Great renewed their battle at Gulfstream on Feb. 3 in the Donn Handicap (gr. I), it was under far different circumstances. Primarily, with Giant's Causeway off to the breeding shed and Tiznow plying his trade back on the West Coast, Steve and Albert were the heavies in the 43rd renewal of the race that traditionally kicks off the year for the handicap division. And strategically, while the Donn would ultimately come down to a stretch battle between the pair, like Picasso painting in straight lines the two runners abandoned their recognized running styles and embarked on journeys that might offer hints into what 2001 might hold in store.
Hunter Pultz, 77, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was pronounced dead Monday at Memorial Medical Center in Hollywood, Fla. of internal injuries caused by a loose horse. Pultz had been employed as a winner's circle security guard by both Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park for ten years.
It will be the Miami Cruisers taking on the Los Angeles Blaze in a pair of cross-country racing events, Gulfstream Park president Scott Savin announced Friday. Five days after what Savin called a "positive meeting" among horsemen at Gulfstream Park, Magna Entertainment Corp.'s idea for a rivalry between its flagship tracks, Gulfstream and Santa Anita, was endorsed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, setting the stage for a series of six races on each coast.
Months after ruling on behalf of the plaintiff in Robin Martin's lawsuit against former fiancée Steve Weiner seeking to grant her full ownership of gelding Val's Prince, Broward County (Fla.) judge Patricia Englander Henning heard arguments Friday to vacate her order based upon an outdated foal certificate being placed in evidence.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has announced the winners of its annual board of directors election, but a protest already has been filed, and there are allegations that racetrack officials attempted to influence voters.
In a meeting Saturday on the backstretch with a group of about 50 horsemen, Gulfstream president Scott Savin detailed Magna Entertainment Corporation's plan to create a rivalry between its flagship tracks, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita, by running a daylong series of races on each coast that would pit Florida and California horses against each other. Magna would foot the bill for 36 Gulfstream horses, each accompanied by a groom, to fly to Santa Anita for six starter allowance races, each with a purse as high as $80,000, on Feb. 25. Approximately two weeks later, the process would be reversed and Gulfstream would host California runners.
With family patriarch Allen Jerkens still in the intensive care unit across the street at Aventura Hospital, wife Elisabeth and son James saddled the Hall of Famer's first 2001 Gulfstream starter to a victory in the sixth race on Sunday Jan 7. Ridden by Julio Espinoza, Fiddle paid $48. "He'll be shaking his fist when he hears about this one," joked Elisabeth Jerkens, "He wanted to come here very much today."
Hialeah Park Chairman John J. Brunetti had some harsh words for rival tracks Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in discussing recent filings with the State of Florida for operating dates in 2002. "The actions taken by the other tracks are contrary to their public façade of cooperation," Brunetti said, upset that both Calder and Gulfstream have filed for expanded live racing dates that infringe on Hialeah's customary operating period of March 17-May 22.
With the winds of change swirling hard around the South Florida racing scene, Gulfstream Park opened for its 2001 meet on Jan. 3 with its usual accompaniment of the top horses and outfits from across the East Coast and Midwest. Perhaps appropriately, with a wrecking ball due to demolish the plant once the meet concludes as part of a Magna Entertainment major reconstruction, and a war over racing dates in the offing, the results of a trio of opening week stakes were as likely as Frank Stronach joining Tim Smith for a friendly round of golf.
The new year brought little change to the condition of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens who remains in Aventura Hospital recovering from severe pancreatitis. "His condition has been stable for a couple of days now," said his wife Elisabeth, "He's gradually getting better, but it will take a long time for him to be 100%." Mrs. Jerkens reports that artificial respiration for the 71-year-old has been reduced to 50% as his lungs show improvement, and that the medical staff is hopeful that Jerkens can be discharged from Intensive Care within seven to ten days.
The opening salvos were fired in what could be a bloody war when Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park each filed with the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering plans to expand their live racing dates by approximately one month during the fiscal year that ends June 1, 2002. Unless altered by the deadline of March 31, 2001, Gulfstream will operate from Jan. 3 through April 20, 2002. Calder will run its usual Tropical-at-Calder dates in 2001-02, then open for its "summer" meet April 26, 2002. Both of those periods encroach on Hialeah Park.
Although Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens remains hospitalized at Aventura Hospital, adjacent to Gulfstream Park, his wife Elisabeth reports that he is gradually improving from a severe pancreatic infection. "We're certainly over the worst of it, although he will remain in intensive care for at least another week and then be out of action for a while afterwards. The pancreas infection damaged all the vital organs, and his lungs especially will take quite a while to heal."
Although it appeared as if resolution was near in the lawsuit regarding the ownership of Val's Prince, a new round of legal maneuvering threatens to prolong the matter. Blissfully ignorant of the litigation, Val's Prince continues to perform on the racetrack, and is likely to make his next start in the Hong Kong Vase Invitational on Dec. 17.
Hialeah Park announced that it will run its 2001 meet – scheduled for March 17 through May 22 – at its home track. Hialeah ran its 2000 meet as a lessee at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, and reported gains in attendance and handle as compared to its 1999 meet, run at Hialeah.
David Romanik, who was named president of Gulfstream Park in March, has been replaced in that role by Scott Savin. The 40- year-old Savin is currently the executive director of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and has been involved in racing as an owner and horsemen's activist for nearly two decades.