06/28/2013 4:34PM

Gulfstream, Calder begin battle for horses in Florida


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Friday proved to be an eventful day on the combative south Florida racing circuit. Gulfstream Park drew entries for Monday’s eight-race card, the first program of the track’s inaugural summer meeting, while at the same time Calder officials instituted a “restricted access policy” that prohibits horses stabled at its track from re-entering the grounds if they ship to race at Gulfstream.

Despite the fact Calder refused to give its horsemen open access, Monday’s program at Gulfstream attracted 69 entries. The majority of the horses entered are currently stabled at Calder.

According to Gulfstream assistant racing secretary Chip Spencer, no entries were pulled from the box after Calder released its statement late Friday morning, although he said he believed many horsemen who might have intended to enter may have changed plans once informed of the new policy.

John Marshall, vice president and general manager of racing at Calder, said part of the impetus for the decision to deny open access was the effect last Tuesday the eight-race card at Gulfstream had on subsequent programs at Calder, with average field sizes of less than seven starters on both the Friday and Sunday cards and just 10 races instead of 11 carded on Saturday.

“There is now a greater expectation for horses stabling and training on Calder’s property, at Calder’s expense, to race at Calder,” Marshall said.

This marks the second time Calder has instituted a restricted access policy. The first came in 1989 when Hialeah attempted to race head-to-head with Calder. Hialeah subsequently called a premature halt to its meet when unable to adequately fill races.

Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo reacted to Calder’s decision by saying, “Calder has the right to decide how they wish to run its own business. We still believe in open access, so whoever is stabled with us is free to run at both facilities.”

Ritvo said his phone and those in the racing office were ringing off the hook immediately after the announcement, with calls from Calder-based horsemen requesting stall space at Gulfstream for the summer.

“I’d estimate we took calls from approximately 85 percent of the horsemen currently stabled at Calder inquiring about stall space here and asking how quickly they could move their horses over for the summer,” Ritvo said.

Three of the eight races on Monday’s Gulfstream program were carded for the turf, including the co-featured fifth event, an entry-level optional claiming race at 1 1/8 miles which drew a full field of 12.

Monday’s program will feature appearances by four of the leading riders from the 2012-2013 winter meet – Javier Castellano, John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, and Edgar Prado. Post time for Monday’s card is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

In addition to the regular card, there will be a special 100-yard Thoroughbred race out of the one-mile chute at 10 a.m. under the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Program license. The non-profit organization previously held a Quarter Horse license that has been converted to a Thoroughbred license, with the horsemen having contracted to share in all revenues from that license, according to track officials.

* Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Chip Spencer as the Calder Race Course assistant racing secretary. He is the Gulfstream Park assistant racing secretary.