09/28/2012 1:13PM

Calder to charge for off-season stabling


MIAMI – Calder said on Friday that it will begin charging a $10 per day stabling fee for all stalls occupied during its off season, which runs from Dec. 1, 2012, until April 5, 2013. The fees will be used to help keep the stable area in operation during that period.

The 2012 Calder meeting ends on Nov. 30, with the 2013 session scheduled to open on April 5.

Calder has traditionally kept its barn area and racetrack open during its off-season to allow local horsemen to continue to train and compete at nearby Gulfstream Park throughout the winter. The Calder barn area has the capacity for 1,800 stalls, nearly 70 percent of which are usually occupied during the winter months.

Gulfstream Park will now offer the only free stall space in the area this coming winter. Stall space is also available for a fee at Palm Meadows, Palm Beach Downs, and Payson Park.

“The timing of this announcement couldn’t have been worse since applications for stalls at Gulfstream Park closed last week,” said trainer Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Combest said he believes if management follows through with this policy, it could spell the end of racing at Calder.

“The guys that stay here year round and don’t ship a string somewhere else will absolutely be put out of business by these charges,” said Combest. “Some of the bigger outfits might be able to pass the costs on to their owners, but trainers like me, who have 8 or 10 horses and are already losing money, just cannot afford to do it.”

This marks the second time local horsemen will be asked to pay an additional fee for use of backstretch facilities this year. Earlier this summer, management imposed a $5 rental fee per room for employees who live on the backstretch. Those rooms had previously been allotted for free.