07/20/2011 2:26PM

Calder scraps Monday cards

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Calder Race Course has cancelled plans to add nine Monday cards to its schedule from late July until late September, the racetrack said Wednesday.

Monday cards were expected to be added to the current four-day-a-week schedule beginning July 25 and running through Sept. 26. One Monday card, on Sept. 5, Labor Day, will remain on the schedule, the racetrack said. Calder currently runs Thursday through Sunday.

Kent Stirling, the executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said the track made the decision to cancel the Monday cards in consultation with horsemen, who agreed with the plan. According to Stirling, field size for the current meet is so far slightly higher than last year’s average field of 8.31 horses per race, and handle on Calder’s races has been better than expected.

“It’s holding its own, and four-day race weeks seem to work better than five,” Stirling said. “During the summer it’s tough to put together five good cards.”

Calder will add races to the remaining cards through September to make up some of the losses, the track said. Stirling also said that Calder is expected to announce a 5-percent purse increase later this week, on top of a 7.5 percent purse increase that was implemented a month ago.

Calder’s current average purse distribution is approximately $231,000 a day, Stirling said, on par with last year’s average distribution.

Over the past several years, many racetracks have slashed dates from their schedules in order to deal with a declining number of horses available to race. Through June of this year, race days at U.S. racetracks are down 6.2 percent compared with the first six months of 2010, according to Equibase.