10/21/2010 2:43PM

Dwoskin would prefer to hang onto High Level Jeff


MIAMI – The best 2-year-old currently stabled in South Florida is the undefeated, Breeders’ Cup-bound Awesome Feather. The second best may be a colt with only a single start under his belt, the impressive maiden winner High Level Jeff, who won his debut here at Calder by eight widening lengths while earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure when sent 5 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 10.

High Level Jeff, a son of Vindication, is owned and trained by Steve Dwoskin, who became the first horseman to ever win both a trainer and owners’ title at the same meet when he topped both categories at the recently concluded Calder meet. Dwoskin purchased High Level Jeff for $50,000 at the 2009 Keeneland yearling sales and was high on the colt long before his first start.

“I go to the Keeneland sale every season and pick out horses along with my girlfriend Debbie Mays,” said Dwoskin. “I knew he was fast and I knew he would be very competitive in his first start but I didn’t think he’d win like that.”

Dwoskin said he has been besieged with offers to purchase High Level Jeff since his debut.

“I’ve had about 40 calls on the horse and I had someone out here this morning watching him work,” said Dwoskin shortly after High Level Jeff breezed a half mile in 47.20 seconds on Thursday. “But the only way I would sell him is to sell part and keep training him. I’m getting older and I want to go to the big dance if I can. Obviously it’s way too early to tell if he’s going to be Kentucky Derby-caliber but his numbers came out very, very big for his first race. I’ll know more after I run him back next week.”

Dwoskin said he plans to enter High Level Jeff in a first-level allowance at six furlongs next Thursday.

Dwoskin also remains still sky high over finally sewing up his first leading trainer title last weekend.

“That was very important to me,” said Dwoskin. “I worked very hard trying to win that title and it’s a big relief now that it’s official and over with. I ran my horses a lot this summer and I plan to back off now during Tropical. I won’t run as much this meet. I got the one I wanted.”

New Yorkers object to Palm Meadows new fees

A group of approximately 30 New York-based horsemen who stable regularly during the winter at Palm Meadows met Thursday morning to discuss the rate increases for both rent and housing that has been proposed by MI Developments for the 2011 Gulfstream Park meeting.

“Stall rent is going up $2 a day on top of the $2 increase we paid last year,” said Rick Violette who sends a large contingent to Palm Meadows each winter and spoke on behalf of the New York horsemen regarding the increase. “That’s a 40 percent increase in two years. In addition we get charged for empty stalls as well, which is a big issue because nobody brings their full contingent when first shipping down from New York.”

Violette said the increased costs puts Palm Meadow-based trainers at a disadvantage when racing against those stabled at Gulfstream Park and Calder who do not incur daily stall rent.

“We’re all racing for the same purses but owners with horses stabled at Palm Meadows must pay nearly $20 a day more in expenses,” said Violette. “If these new increases go through, many of the Palm Meadow trainers are talking about cutting down on the number of horses they’ll ship to Florida this winter.”

Tim Ritvo, newly appointed vice president in charge of racing operations for MID, said the latest increases are to help offset losses the company incurs each season to operate Palm Meadows, the state-of-the-art training facility located approximate 45 miles from Gulfstream.

“We still offer a rebate policy to horsemen whereby they can re-coup part if not all of their expenses for stall rent based on the number of starts per horse during the meet,” said Ritvo. “The rebate policy is based on helping to encourage participation from our Palm Meadow horsemen for the entire meet not just through the end of March. We sympathize with the horsemen’s situation but at the same time our costs have exploded over the past several years and we need to find a way to cover those expenses to be able to continue to maintain the high level of quality at that facility.”

Ritvo said negotiations pertaining to the proposed changes remain ongoing between track officials and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents all northern-based horsemen who race in south Florida during the winter.