08/01/2012 1:39PM

Gulfstream Park: Acquisition of adjoining mall could lead to an expanded racing season

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Barbara D. Livingston
Stronach Group has purchased Forest City Enterprise Inc's interest in The Village with the hope of creating a 24-hour gaming and entertainment destination.

The Stronach Group announced Wednesday it has purchased Forest City Enterprise Inc.’s interest in the Village at Gulfstream Park – an outdoor mall that adjoins the racetrack – perhaps a precursor of an expanded racing schedule or even year-round racing at Gulfstream Park.

Track officials are calling the purchase part of a strategic initiative by the Stronach Group to fully incorporate the Village and Gulfstream Park and its slots casino into a year-round, 24-hour dining, shopping, gaming, and entertainment destination.

When asked about the possibility of seeing an expanded racing schedule at Gulfstream, perhaps as early as next year, track president Tim Ritvo said, “Our Chairman, Frank Stronach, has always thought about racing year-round and by purchasing the Village it only makes more sense to explore that option.

“We will continue to work with our neighbors at Calder and the Calder horsemen to do what is in the best interests of all of us in the industry, but I can definitely foresee a day when there could be year-round racing at Gulfstream Park.”

Racing dates in south Florida are assigned on an annual basis from July 1 through June 30 . Dates are already assigned through June 30, 2013, with Gulfstream scheduled to race from Dec. 1, 2012, through April 8, 2013.

When asked if there was a possibility Gulfstream could expand its racing schedule as early as 2013, Ritvo said “legally we cannot add racing dates to our schedule until July 1, 2013, without striking a deal with Calder and the Florida horsemen.”

Ritvo said he’s spoken to a number of northern-based horsemen who race at Gulfstream Park during the winter and said many have responded positively when asked if they would be willing to race year-round in south Florida.

“A lot of our northern trainers have said the idea of being located in the same spot on a year-round basis is very appealing to them,” said Ritvo.

Peter Walder, who stables at Monmouth Park during the summer, said he’d definitely relocate permanently to south Florida if Gulfstream Park went to a year-round racing schedule. Trainer Todd Pletcher also said earlier this week he would “consider” keeping a division at Gulfstream during the spring and summer.

“I love Gulfstream,” Walder said. “I’m a supporter of Mr. Stronach and what he’s trying to do down there, and no ifs, ands, or buts, I would stay down there year-round.”

Danielle French More than 1 year ago
I visited Gulfstream a couple years back for the first time after they remodeled -changed-runied it, you pick the term. I was heart broken. It is not like a race track any more. I had a hard finding the padock the first time, and then when I did, I wished I hadn't. I can only hope they build a decent grandstand and saddleing area at Palm Meadows and make that the racing destination for south Florida. No offence Hallandale/DadeCounty but in my opinion Boyton Beach is a much easier area to deal with.
Cornelius More than 1 year ago
The trouble with Mr. Stronach is clearly very simple to point out. Mr. Stronach keeps hiring executives to manage his Stronach Group that want to take the Racing Industry where it is detrimental to horse racing fans. Their lack of knowledge of what is needed to revive horse racing and their stubborn management style that clearly tries to dictate or impose corporate greed has become the focus of opposing factions. How much more proof does Mr. Stronach need, when one considers the mess they created with Magna Entertainment. They can keep on dreaming and wasting millions of dollars on their vision while horse bettors would simple take their business to other tracks that has remained loyal to the sport.
Dennis Fisher More than 1 year ago
well said Cornelius
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First up, there already is racing year-round in south Florida, and it's called Calder. Secondly, this is nothing more than an attempt to ruin south Florida racing further, by a man who turns every racing enterprise he touches into excrement. Gulfstream works, for lack of a better term since the ugly plant hardly "works", because it's a destination meet in a warm climate in a location that can attract people who are not cold-climate operations. Bad enough Calder racing on a slow, tiring, tired track can be excruciating, but who wants to go to south Florida in the middle of July, say, or the middle of the monsoon or hurricane seasons to watch racing? There's more water in the air than in the ocean in the summer. He just wants Calder out of business. The problem is, again, greed. This time, it's greed with a lack of foresight, because Calder has its purpose, which is middle-class racing. Gulfstream will generally be a summer home for cheap racing, all signs to the contrary. Gulfstream will never have the cachet of Hialeah in the glory days, no matter how hard they try to turn their industrial, visually unappealing, sterile track into a "destination".
Daryl Steen More than 1 year ago
You obviously have never been to Gulfstream Park by your description...I agree that Calder should run during the summer but calling Gulfstream "visually unappealing" or "ugly" is off base.
russell More than 1 year ago
Lat time I was at Gulfstream Park was when Unbridled Song romped in the Fla Derby. I havent seen the new place but the old venue was just fine when i was there on their most important day. I had a nice day but he blew up a track that was already great. Can you imagine someone blowing up Belmont's amazing paddock ring or the long seating area? Makes no sense.
Daryl Steen More than 1 year ago
What about Yankee stadium ? How long do you hold on to the past ? We all want horse racing to survive and holding on to an old building isn't the way to do it. Stronach makes many questionable decisions but building a new complex at Gulfstream was not one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stronach is a joke. The purses will never be high enough to support Gulfstream being a major summer track. Stronach tore down a beautiful yet aging track and built a casino in it's place. While I give him credit for the barns and the track itself the club house/ Grandstand ( if you can call it that) is awful. It's impossible to enjoy live racing. Why couldn't he have built a track like keenland or Arlington Park. There will never be another Breeders Cup at Gulfstream. It's not a racetrack it's a slots house with horses running outside.
Daryl Steen More than 1 year ago
Welcome to the 21st century...we all love aging tracks with no air conditioning but sometimes you have to let them go...I live two miles from Gulfstream and as a regular customer I can tell you it's much more user friendly...sure you can't pack in 80 thousand for a breeders cup once every 25 years but for your every day player it's a major upgrade...if you've been here you know you don't need to ever see a slot machine as it's kept to it's own area...how many tracks out there want to give up it's slots and poker anyway ?
r t More than 1 year ago
i recall the days of jimmy the greek haning out at gulfstream, a stutz bearcat left running out side the clubhousegate, the horse timely writer, joes stone crab, 1-6-10 tri numbers, the year the rail was winning races in an unprecedented number due to the rail not being groomed properly and because of it it was faster, i recall getting my first cuban cigar, catching the dogs at hollywood and pompano harness in thesame day, those were the days my friend i thought they would never end!
russell More than 1 year ago
Stronach sucks. Look what he did for the Santa Anita stock holders. He loaded the company up with debt and drove down the stock price down and then his holding company bought the bonds which were at 14%. Stock went to virtually zero and bondholders led by Stronach made sure they won and took control of the remaining physical assets. This guy is a cancer. There is no way a major East Coast stables will ever keep horses in the Spring, Summer, and Fall at Gulfstream with the purses in NY and Philly at all time highs. This is bad journalism.
hdubret More than 1 year ago
The purse structure in New York may be good now, but who knows what its going to look like after Cuomo gets done ripping the heart out of racing. I'm willing to bet those "all-time highs" become distant memories.
russell More than 1 year ago
that might be true but when has racing in the spring, summer, or fall ever been a popular draw. Who wants to be in Florida during June, July, and August. Gulfstream is popular because of a lot of snow birds go for the winter. I dont see that changing.
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
What I think you are missing is that Calder is widely rumored here in South Florida to want to reduce their dates significantly. I agree that the non-Winter dates won't be as profitable but Stronach will be doing the horsemen a huge favor if he fills the void left by Calder's expected significant reduction. You also state who wants to be in Florida in June through August? I relocated here a few years ago from Louisville and I can assure you that it is MUCH cooler here during those months than it is in Louisville. It's gets to 90 here a lot but never gets to 100 like it does there.
russell More than 1 year ago
And thats why the best barns from Kentucky go north to Saratoga from late July to Labor Day. That will never change. The only reason the Florida horsemen want to move racing dates to Gulfstream is the purses will be higher.
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
Bring back Hialeah
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
History has proved Stronach is bad for racing. Let him race his horses, and breed, but he always gets tracks in toruble. AND DO NOT INVEST WITH HIM, or in his tracks, he is the only winner. Typical super rich mentality, lets screw the public into making more money for me. I hope the FL legislature is smart enough not to lend him money or support his poor planning. Who ever does his long range planning should be fired!
victor More than 1 year ago
He sounds just like Donald Trump.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Stronach just want's to wipe every track off the map, just like a mad man of the past.He fire's everybody and want's to be a dictator.Gulfstream is a shell of what it was.Racing is an after thought just poker and slot;s Winter racing is not what is used to be, but racing in general is on a slide with no safety net.The age of real horse player's are in the baby boomer range.At that rate racing has to wake up and get into modern time's
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Perhaps they could rip out all that cookie cutter stripmall stuff and build a true saddle enclosure and walking ring - kinda like - No! - exactly like the one they tore out. Good luck to all...