12/30/2013 2:56PM

Gulfstream and Calder in racing dates discussions

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Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course in South Florida are in the midst of discussions over future racing dates at the two facilities, six months after the tracks began racing head-to-head for the first time, officials for both tracks said on Monday.

The talks have been taking place over the past few weeks and are ongoing, though the officials cautioned that a deal is not imminent. The state’s regulatory commission requires tracks to submit preliminary dates plans for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, by Jan. 4, but those plans can be amended up until Feb. 28, and tracks can ask for approval to change the dates at any time with the agreement of local racing constituencies.

Though both sides declined to provide details about the talks, Tim Ritvo, the president of Gulfstream, said on Monday that the purposes of the talks were to “avoid dates conflicts and agree on a racing schedule that would complement each track.”

The two tracks began racing head-to-head this summer, creating stress on the local horse population and leading to significant declines in the tracks’ average daily handle figures.

John Marshall, the general manager of racing at Calder, said that Calder remains committed to running during the coming winter months. Calder is owned by Churchill Downs Inc., a public company, while Gulfstream is owned by the Stronach Group, a private company controlled by the billionaire horse owner and breeder Frank Stronach.

“Whether or not we get [an agreement] largely depends on the Stronach Group and their willingness to work on behalf of the state’s racing industry,” Marshall said. “We’re doing fine.”