06/13/2013 4:10PM

Gulfstream and Calder on course to race head-to-head


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – With negotiations between Gulfstream Park and Calder at an impasse, it appears the two tracks are on a collision course to race head-to-head on weekends throughout the summer.

Gulfstream’s president and general manager Tim Ritvo said on Thursday afternoon that the two sides were far apart in their negotiations to avoid a dates conflict and that Gulfstream intends to proceed with plans to race Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.

Both tracks had requests for year-round racing approved by regulators in March. Gulfstream’s 2013 summer meet is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 1, and continue until the 2013-2014 winter session opens on Dec. 1. Gulfstream will also race on July 4. Calder is in the midst of a meet that began April 6. The first head-to-head conflict between Gulfstream and Calder would take place on Saturday, July 6.

“After meeting with Calder officials this afternoon, we feel that we were closer to a potential deal a week ago than we are now, that from our standpoint we are much further apart than we wished to be at this time,” said Ritvo. “As a result we are going ahead 100 percent with our plan to run Saturdays and Sundays this summer and, barring any last minute communications, to go head-to-head with Calder if we have to.”

Calder traditionally has run from late April through Jan. 2, with Gulfstream racing from Jan. 3 through the third week of April. The tracks resolved a potential dates conflict in 2011-12 when Calder agreed to allow Gulfstream to take the December dates in exchange for two extra weeks of racing in April.

John Marshall, Calder vice president and general manager of racing, responded on Thursday by saying: “All Calder did was apply for our regular racing dates. The December to April issue we resolved with Gulfstream a few years ago was intended to end all future race dates conflicts in south Florida, yet unfortunately here we are again. The current situation is an example of where reckless operating has led the south Florida racing industry.”

Ritvo said he’s already contacted several of the bigger outfits stabled at Calder, offering them permanent stabling at Gulfstream, effective immediately. He’s also planning to raise purses in the first condition book for the upcoming meet as well as offer owner incentives to race at Gulfstream this summer.

“We’ve been holding off moving horsemen into our barn area, but I have contacted several stables at Calder today and I think we’ll see horses beginning to come in here within the next 48 hours,” said Ritvo. “I also want to emphasize that all the horsemen we approach from Calder will become 100 percent, year-round Gulfstream residents. They will not be asked to leave when the championship meet begins this fall.”

Gulfstream has plans on the table to construct two double-deck barns capable of housing a total of 500 horses. They are expected to be ready during the fall. Ritvo also said Gulfstream-based horsemen will be permitted to ship and return if they wish to participate in a race at Calder.

“We believe that no horseman can survive either here on a two-program-a-week schedule or over there on three programs a week, and by allowing our horsemen to have open access, it gives them five days of racing to choose from this summer,” said Ritvo.

Gulfstream is also scheduled to run on June 25, as an extension of its 2012-2013 meet. Ritvo said he plans to raise the original purses that day and give a $1,000 per horse incentive to run. Calder is dark that day.