07/05/2013 4:18PM

Calder, Gulfstream competing for entries


MIAMI – The battle for entries on the south Florida circuit began in earnest Thursday, with the racing offices at both Calder and Gulfstream Park struggling to fill eight-race programs for Sunday. The tracks are scheduled to race head to head on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer.

The overnights for Sunday’s races did not come out until after 6 p.m. Thursday at both tracks. Calder held the edge in the number of entries Sunday, 60-57, while Gulfstream won the purse war, giving away $166,500 including Florida Owner Awards on Sunday’s card compared to $116,500 at Calder. Gulfstream also will award $1,000 to the owner of each starter on Sunday’s card.

Gulfstream’s main event for Sunday is a $36,000 second-level optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Calder’s feature is a seven-furlong entry-level allowance dash that offers a $28,000 purse.

Securing jockeys for their horses will be a major issue for trainers during the conflict. Jockey agents were permitted to name their riders on horses at both tracks for Sunday, but had to commit to specific mounts by 9 a.m. Friday. Riders can accept mounts at Gulfstream and Calder when the two tracks race simultaneously, but must be in the jockeys’ room at least 45 minutes prior to each race they are committed to ride or will be subject to fines. It takes approximately 20 minutes to travel by car between the two venues.

Edgar Zayas, Calder’s leading jockey, was listed to ride in seven of the eight races Sunday at Calder and four of the eight at Gulfstream.

More than a dozen trainers have already moved their stables from Calder to Gulfstream, with many others, including such prominent horsemen as Eddie Plesa Jr., David Fawkes, and Marty Wolfson, scheduled to do likewise this weekend. The exodus began in earnest after Calder management implemented a “restricted-access policy” forbidding most horses from returning to the grounds if they ship to Gulfstream to race.