07/01/2014 4:09PM

Gulfstream, Calder reach dates agreement

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The landmark agreement between Churchill Downs Inc. and the Stronach Group was finally signed and gained approval from the state of Florida on Tuesday, ending the dates conflict that had existed for the past year between south Florida neighbors Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park.

Under terms of the agreement, the Stronach-owned Gulfstream will assume control of Calder, which is owned by CDI, as well as the majority of the live racing dates on the circuit.

“There were so many moving parts to this deal. It’s huge. It’s not just that Churchill Downs is leasing Calder to us,” said Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo, explaining the recent delay in making the complicated agreement official. “It took lots of lawyers going through lots of paperwork before we were finally able to get this thing done. It’s unusual to see a win-win situation in this game, but I think this is it, although I guess only time will tell how this will shake out.”

Gulfstream Park will race 10 months a year, with Calder to conduct live racing programs in October and November under the auspices of the Stronach Group, which has leased that facility for the next six years. One of the contingencies of the deal was that CDI closed its poker room at Calder at midnight Monday, the final day of the fiscal year in Florida. The track also will cease all simulcast operations at the close of business Tuesday.

The dates agreement also fulfills the state mandate that at least 230 Thoroughbred racing programs be conducted on the circuit each fiscal year, 190 of which will be run at Gulfstream, with the remaining 40 at Calder.

“Give credit to Churchill. They went over and above to make this thing happen,” said Ritvo. “So, too, did the state, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the horsemen, and the breeders. Everybody gave up something to get the deal done.” 

Along with the Stronach Group and CDI, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association also had to sign off on the agreement.

“This is a new era for Florida racing,” said FHPBA president Phil Combest. “The horsemen are looking forward to a much brighter future here in south Florida.  Churchill Downs has long made it clear that horse racing is only a means to an end for them. They’re a casino company now. On the other hand, the Stronach Group and Gulfstream Park have demonstrated time and time again that their focus is on horse racing, on raising purses, on improving their facilities, on making it a better experience for all concerned. The horsemen are excited to be their partners and look forward to the journey ahead.”

The Friday, July 4, racing program at Calder, drawn Monday, has been canceled in light of the new dates agreement. Gulfstream will conduct live racing Thursdays through Sundays until the end of September.

Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I gotta admit I don't care. Once I saw the summit of speed canceled. I just don't care about Florida racing. It's dead...period.
Steve More than 1 year ago
This just doubled my travel distance to get to a track for live racing. I guess my online account will get more action at home and my cigar smoking will be reduced...
pathagan More than 1 year ago
Too bad Calder didn't shut down entirely. Give their dates to Hialeah.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Before you bash Stronach, you should realize he just saved year round racing in south FL. CDI certainly has not been interested in operating Crc as a track anymore. So Stronach stepped up. Regarding the renovations at GP, most track operators would tear down their large grandstand if they had the chance. Why have an empty building every day? We have to realize that horse racing has changed and full grandstands only happen a couple times a year.
Old timer More than 1 year ago
Stronach Group is focused on horse racing? Is that why they tore down the big grandstand at GP and put slot machines in and left very few seats for watching the races? You sure could have fooled me.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A little scary when you wonder who is pulling Stronachs' strings.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Watch out Stronach is on the march.He has racing in his sights.He has the west coast now south fla.What's next.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Arlington?
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
And does Calder's simulcast magically reopen when live racing returns in October?
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Now, if only Gulfstream would move their casino operation out into the parking lot. Make GP a racetrack again...
mikey More than 1 year ago
They killed one of the best places to watch a race.
C.Richard Waller More than 1 year ago
It was best said: That CDI is in the casino business and Frank Stronach is in the horse racing business. The best to the horsemen and fans who now have some continuity in racing. Good job Tim and all concerned. CRW
Michael Griffiths More than 1 year ago
Sounds to me like a deal between Satan and the Devil , the punters are the only losers
mikey More than 1 year ago
You are spot on.