04/06/2012 1:27PM

Gulfstream Park to run Quarter Horse race on Sunday


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park will run a 220-yard Quarter Horse race following the conclusion of the 11-race Thoroughbred card on Sunday, closing day of the 2011-2012 meeting. The reason for running the race is to keep the track’s Quarter Horse permit valid in case the Florida legislature decides to revoke any parimutuel permits that are not active, said Gulfstream Park president and general manager Tim Ritvo.

The long-range purpose for activating the Quarter Horse permit, which is one of two parimutuel permits held by the track, is that it could ultimately lead to Gulfstream being able to double its current allotment of 2,000 slot machines as well as add a second card room.

“Gulfstream Park has been advised by counsel to exercise our second permit on closing day, April 8, or face the consequence of revocation of the permit in the future,” said Ritvo.

The decision to run a Quarter Horse race has drawn the ire of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which negotiated with Gulfstream management to cancel a Quarter Horse race scheduled to be run last Dec. 31.

Florida HBPA president Phil Combest said the horsemen have a “valid and binding” purse contract with Gulfstream that states there will be no racing other than for Thoroughbreds at Gulfstream through the end of this year.

“Obviously we, the horsemen, are totally committed to the future of Thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream, but we do not remotely understand how Quarter Horse racing fits in here,” Combest said.

Said Ritvo: “We have worked in good faith with the horsemen since December on this subject and will continue to welcome their input, but strongly believe protecting our second permit will be beneficial and essential to the Thoroughbred industry in the future. There should be no doubting Gulfstream Park’s commitment to Thoroughbred racing.”