06/22/2013 2:05PM

Gulfstream Park: Summertime card begins new era

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Barbara D. Livingston
Gulfstream will hold its first-ever summer program with a special eight-race card on Tuesday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.- What do Gulfstream Park and the National Hockey League have in common? Both have extended their 2012-2013 seasons into the summer.

The NHL finally decides the Stanley Cup this week while Gulfstream concludes its 2012-2013 championship meet, which began back on Dec. 1, with a special eight-race card on Tuesday. It will be first-ever summer program in the long and storied history of the track and a harbinger of things to come, with Gulfstream currently planning to begin its first summer-spring session on July 1.

Gulfstream’s 2012-13 meet originally ended on April 5. But track management applied for and was granted permission by the state to extend the session one extra day, allowing the track to become its own simulcast hub throughout the summer and fall rather than being required to use Calder as its hub, as in the past.

[GULFSTREAM PARK: Get PPs, watch Tuesday's full card live]

Gulfstream Park’s president, Tim Ritvo, said track management chose Tuesday the 25th “because it was a day no other pari-mutuel facility [in Florida] was running, and we won’t cause any loss of revenue for the state by racing live that afternoon. In fact, by us running Tuesday, state revenues will actually go up for the day.”

There are currently just under 300 horses stabled on the grounds at Gulfstream Park. As a result, Ritvo offered an incentive to horsemen and owners to help fill Tuesday’s program, increasing the original purses in the condition book $4,000 apiece while also offering to pay out $1,000 to every starter regardless of where they finish in each of the eight races on the card. As a result, Tuesday’s program lured 84 entries, the majority of whom will ship over from their regular base at Calder for the day.

“Calder management did the right thing not to hold its horsemen hostage and by allowing horses stabled over there to ship and return to compete on Tuesday’s program,” said Ritvo. “We believe with open access, the horsemen win. And if both tracks do run against one another this summer, that policy should continue, because it would give trainers the opportunity to have five race days to pick and choose from, which would be better for both them and the two tracks.”

Although negotiations are ongoing between Gulfstream and Calder, the two tracks are currently scheduled to race head to head on weekends throughout the summer and into the fall beginning on July 6.

Because Tuesday’s card is an extension of the 2012-2013 session, any owner who ran a horse during the championship meet this past winter remains eligible to claim. To protect the local horse population, Ritvo put in a house rule that forbids any horse claimed on Tuesday’s program to race at any track outside of south Florida for the next 90 days.

Ritvo was pleased with the way entries filled for the first summer card in track history.

“Because Tuesday is an extension of our winter championship meet, we had extra money to give away, so we anticipated decent fields, especially with open access,” said Ritvo. “We’re hoping to do a good business with our simulcast signal since it is a Tuesday and there are limited signals available around the country. We’re also looking forward to being able to give our simulcast customers a hint of what’s to come, since we will be conducting live racing here throughout the summer and right up until our 2013-14 meet opens on December 1.”

Tuesday’s card is highlighted by the seventh race, a 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming dash that carries a $35,000 purse. Musical Flair, beaten a nose under similar conditions going five furlongs in his last start, and Ecabroni are among the leading contenders.

ken n More than 1 year ago
May the best man win.
John More than 1 year ago
Some of you are missing the main reason for extended racing at Gulfstream. There are alot of Florida Bred horses from the Ocala Farms ( OBS Sales ) that are racing outside of the state . Without a chance to make Bonus Florida Bred Money Awards for the Breeders and Owners . EXAMPLE : They receive 10 % additional Purse money at Florida tracks. Plus 100's of Thousands of dollars if they Win Series of Key Stakes races Most of the Florida breeders and owners sell and race here because of the millions of dollars they can get from the Florida Breeders and Owners bonus award Funds. It promotes Florida bred Thoroughbred Racing to investors outside the state. Florida needs to have more racing dates at tracks like Gulfstream . It keeps REVENUE flowing to the track, city and state . Creates jobs for the local cities in the area.
jttf More than 1 year ago
you better have some off track, high tomlinson breeding in your gulfstream park horses. they get an average of 7 inches of rain per summer month.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Saratoga never worries about rain in August . Seems like it rains every other day there. What's the difference there's a winner every race. That's all the gamblers care about.
russell More than 1 year ago
I would love to call a race. That said, anything more than 5 horses and I would be a mess.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Great job by Ritvo letting a fan from the crowd call the races(HA HA).This guy was sooo bad he must be from the kitchen staff or a walk in.Ritvo is a second class puppet of the wacko that owns the place.
Freddy Diaz-Lacayo More than 1 year ago
Calder has a brand new state-of-the-art Casino that is just amazing, but walk over to watch some horses and you feel like you've traveled back in time to the 60's, terrible complex. Gulfstream figured out, if you build it they will come, so get on board Calder and Hialeah, if you want us to spend our money at your establishment over Gulfstream then give us a product that we will enjoy. Not some rag tag, old, disheveled race track. I'm all for year round racing at Gulfstream's state of the art facilities, bring it on!
Trent More than 1 year ago
I couldn't agree more. I visited Calder for the 1st time last month, and I was disgusted. It's one of the worst tracks I've ever visited. Gulfstream, on the other hand, is immaculate. I hope GP eventually gets the Breeder's Cup.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Calder has one thing over Gulf and that's seating. You cannot even sit outside and watch a race at Gulfstream without spending money. Grandstand is short, narrow and without a seat is amazing.... They couldn't hold a breeders cup crowd. It's crowded when there is about 8000 people for a stakes day. Lines terrible and people getting shutout because they are scared to use the auto machines themselves .
Frank More than 1 year ago
big big mistake. This decision was definitely NOT made in the best interest for horse racing. I don't even bet florida tracks in the summer all the best horse are up north.
John More than 1 year ago
thats because they dont offer many top races at calder. Once they get gulfstream to race in the summer you will see better racing . Better quality horses and more money for the racing industry here.
William Eisele More than 1 year ago
sounds like same old,same old greed to me ....and why can't they step aside & do the right thing & let Hialeah have a short boutique meet ,say 15 days in spring/fall ala keeneland & tie it into the o.b.s. sales with a futurity race /marathon race /turf race for sale graduates???
Horse 2win More than 1 year ago
Good question. Anyone know the answer?
mrm More than 1 year ago
Maybe because Brunnetti is a moron.
ron More than 1 year ago
im a dm. and sar guy in the summer.then the late belmont meet alone with sa. then to gulfstream.this has work well for me so why include a summer gp. meet?
russell More than 1 year ago
What I do know is that Stronach is a racing cancer. Giving him carte blanche in South Florida is not the answer. They are running for garbage today in South Fla so who cares? That said, every year a few good 2 yold Fla breds emerge from the Calder meet. Not much other quality happens there and it wouldn't change if GP had the dates. No one even knows if the GP dirt course can handle the huge amount of rain that happens at Calder.
Horse 2win More than 1 year ago
They have redone the drainage system there in fact earlier this month we had a huge amount of rain one day, about 8" & the track (Gulfstream) was open for training the next morning, the drainage is far superior to Calder.
russell More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the info. I did not know that. I do know that Calder has more sand than Belmont and it helps keep the soup together during the rain.