11/30/2012 5:17PM

Gulfstream Park: Calder horsemen withholding entries due to stall rent dispute

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The dispute between Calder management and horsemen over the pending charges for stall rent this winter has now spilled across town to affect the 2012-13 Gulfstream Park meeting which opens Saturday.

Following an emergency horsemen’s meeting Friday morning at Calder, some trainers who stable year-round at that facility either refused to enter horses for next Wednesday’s program at Gulfstream or withdrew entries they’d already made earlier that morning. As a result, Gulfstream drew only an eight-race card for Wednesday, the third day of the session, which runs through April 5, 2013.

“The horsemen here feel like they are the guy in the middle and are getting kicked around by two tracks who don’t like each other and are probably heading for a dates war in the near future,” said Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.  “And they just don’t want to be kicked around any longer. The Board of Directors of the HBPA did not advocate a boycott of the entry booth at Gulfstream. We just told our horsemen that we have been unable to come to an agreement with the two sides, that we have no solution to the problem at this time, and that each person has to make up their own mind about what they’re going to do.”

At issue is Calder’s decision, announced in October, to assess a stall rent of $10 per stall, per day for any horse who remains on the grounds following the conclusion of the Calder racing season, which ended Friday.

“Calder is doing something that hasn’t been done in 40 years and we feel they are also in violation of our contract,” said Sterling. “In addition, we believe Gulfstream has been getting a free ride for a long time considering the number of Calder-based horses who fill their entries each winter. Horses who ship in from Palm Meadows to race get paid for their starts and we’re not asking anything close to what they get, per starter, at Palm Meadows.” 

Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo said that he empathizes with the Calder horsemen and that the situation was complicated when Calder did not announce its intention to charge stall rent until stalls had already been allotted at Gulfstream for the upcoming meet.

“Churchill Downs has every right to do whatever they like but the right thing would have been to give everybody enough time to make the necessary adjustments and decisions in this situation,” said Ritvo. “If we had foreseen these things coming, we might not have run five days a week to open the meet and we possibly could have allocated our stalls differently and made adjustments to accommodate as many of the Calder horsemen as possible to make this work.

“As it is, we’re committed to finding stall space for any horse who ships in to run from Calder and is not allowed to return. We’re already in the process of adding temporary stalls in the south parking lot and we have 250 empty stalls available at Palm Meadows until the sales horses come in next month.”

Ritvo said that Calder horsemen should not expect Gulfstream Park to foot the bill for stall rent to be paid to Calder, which is owned by Churchill Downs Inc.

“When Calder trainers ship to Tampa to run, they don’t expect Tampa to pay them for those starters,” said Ritvo. “So why should it be any different when they race here.”

Gulfstream Park racing secretary Dan Bork said approximately 15 horses originally entered for Wednesday’s program were withdrawn late Friday morning.  Another 15 Calder-based horses remain on Wednesday’s overnight although Bork said he’s uncertain if all or any would remain after scratch time.

“We lost about 15 entries and who knows how many other horses who might have been entered for Wednesday if not for this situation,” said Bork.

Bork confirmed that entries for Thursday’s card will be drawn, as scheduled, on Saturday afternoon.

 

Eric More than 1 year ago
THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR ALMOST 40 YEARS. GULFSTREAM IS NOT PATRON PLEASING. CALDER IS NOT APPRECIATED BY WHATS LEFT OF THE RACING PUBLIC. THE TRACKS SQUABBLE OVER DATES-UNLESS THE WARRING PARTIES COME TO SOME KIND OF A UNITED PROMOTIONAL FRONT, HORSE RACING IN FLORIDA WILL CONTINUE TO SLIDE DOWN. BIG RICK
Jose More than 1 year ago
Calder and Gulfstream how some of the worse incompetent management in the country.
Chris Szulc More than 1 year ago
You haven't seen Arlington.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Just another case that racing needs a commish.The only so called major sport played with different rules in each state.The so called men running this sport and track's are full of what the horse's leave on the ground.
russell More than 1 year ago
I don't see how the trainers can win this battle. The trainers can boycott all they want but eventually they have to run their horses to pay the bills. Calder can hurt the trainers more by decreasing purses and racing dates. The fee costs the trainer $300 a month. The track must be maintained and people have to get paid.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't be shocked if a number of Calder-based horsemen head for New York, especially with their better dirt horses who can help NYRA fill some of the races at a time of the year they can't race on turf (turf racing at Aqueduct is scheduled to run through Dec. 9). They can also head for Maryland and race at Laurel in the winter and other spots as well.
russell More than 1 year ago
Makes sense or they can move their whole string to Tampa where the purse structure is about the same as Calder.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
Welcome to the land of Capitalism where money comes first and the people and the product come second. This is what people who are not in the upper class go through everyday to survive.
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
Shutter or abbreviate Calder and bring back Hialeah,the real jewel in Florida
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You're funny. Are you offering to pay John Brunetti the millions he wants to buy Hialeah when he has absolutely no intention of racing full-time again? And yet you make a good point. Calder's meet IS too long. And their track is painfully slow. Those are recipes for disaster. CDI should sell Calder to someone not named Stronach, and they should dig up that track surface and make it a first-class local operation for once. Hialeah is not coming back no matter how many quarter-horses they have on hand (as if we can ever take John Brunetti seriously), but that doesn't mean Calder's meet is going to be equal to Belmont in summertime.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Best track in country in winter. Everybody went there. Area is really tough now though..was last there in 2000
Brian More than 1 year ago
This is is an inevitable dispute, with Stream expanding dates, and don't be suprised if Tampa Bay Downs is a player here also. The fault lies, mostly, with the state of Florida, for not implemeting some control. At the core for public benefit, this is a state revenue issue and it is in it's best intrest not to have each track a cancer against the other. I know it doesn't work perfectly in NY, but to a degree it does work, and I believe there is a warranted war between Stronach and the state. The Breeders Cup at this track...right...with 35,000 people sitting in thier cars in the parking lot.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Mike, I thought the stall rent was only being charged to horses who don't run at Gulfstream..wasn't that the deal made in October?? Either way, I know the training centers in Florida all charge rent. It is tough competing against Kentucky and NY outfits for these guys..least they could do is throw em a bone if they race..if not charge em rent or go rest on a farm.
Kevin Smith More than 1 year ago
Why do my hometown tracks continually try to kill the sport? It's already on life support........
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Once again the bettors are the ones who get screwed the most by this impass between Calder Race Track wanting to charge for stall space in its off season and Gulfstream continually attempting to ramrod Calder's dates. The bettors (the real fans) know that Calder's sand & dirt strip is suitable for summer monsoon racing while Gulfstream is not! Calder has a right to exist as long as they keep their purse structure up while they satisfy their patrons who come out to the track for a day of entertainment. Frank Stronach, the President of Stronach Entertainment has been a thorn in the side of Florida's racing fans for many years now. It's time for you to retire Frank and give everyone concerned a break! You are very greedy and very tight. He would probably cut off his own mother if it could save him a buck!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unless the bettors own horses, they're only receiving the trickle-down effect from the dispute. Fact is that it's the horsemen trying to survive, caught in the middle between two greedy Goliaths who work to ruin the sport everywhere in which their names aren't already mud.