09/05/2013 4:02PM

Gulfstream Park new host for Florida Sire Stakes


The six races of the Florida Sire Stakes will be held at Gulfstream Park in 2014 after 32 years of being run at Gulfstream’s crosstown Miami rival, Calder Race Course, officials said on Thursday.

The six races – formerly named the Florida Stallion Stakes – are restricted to Florida-bred juveniles and are divided into two divisions, one for fillies and the other for either sex. Each division has a six-furlong event, followed later in the summer by a seven-furlong race, and culminating with a 1 1/16-mile race. The announcement did not include dates for the six races, which in the past have been held throughout the summer and into early fall.

The relocation of the series was made possible when Gulfstream chose this year to run year round for the first time. According to Florida officials, Gulfstream’s management actively pursued hosting the races, whose purses are funded in large part by the state’s breeding-incentive program. Gulfstream is owned by a private company controlled by billionaire owner-breeder Frank Stronach.

Lonny Powell, the chief executive of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, said in a statement: “Frank Stronach’s team, led by track president Tim Ritvo, really did a masterful job in putting together a presentation that packaged both economic and marketing-related considerations into a very comprehensive and forward-looking plan that really put the best interests of the Florida Thoroughbred breeder and owner on the national center stage.”

The loss of the three races may not mean much financially to Calder, but the relocation is another blow to the track that used to dominate the summer and fall racing scene in Florida.

The head-to-head competition between Calder and Gulfstream this year has had a dramatic impact on Calder’s business. Though total handle for the two tracks exceeds that of Calder’s individual handle last year, Calder’s own handle has declined by roughly a third compared with last year, when it ran in isolation, and the track several weeks ago announced a 12-percent cut in purses.

Earlier this year, Gulfstream also reached an agreement to host the Claiming Crown through 2015. The event, restricted to horses who have started for a claiming price in the prior year, was run at Gulfstream last year. The event, first held in 1999, has also been run at Canterbury Park, Philadelphia Park, Ellis Park, and Fair Grounds.