10/05/2016 1:50PM

Gulfstream Park West opening pushed back to Saturday


The opening of the Gulfstream Park West meet, scheduled for Wednesday, was pushed back to Saturday with Hurricane Matthew forecast to hit the area Thursday and into Friday. The 40-day session is scheduled to run through Nov. 27.

Training has been canceled at Gulfstream Park West in Miami and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. No mandatory evacuation of horses has been ordered at either track, although trainers stabled in the lower-lying areas of Gulfstream Park – which is more prone to flooding – were given the option of moving their horses to Palm Meadows.

Trainer Mark Casse shipped all 28 horses he had stabled at Gulfstream Park to Ocala, Fla., on Wednesday due to concerns about flooding.

Gulfstream Park remained open for simulcasting Wednesday, but was to close Thursday and Friday and reopen Saturday.

“The safety of our fans, horses, jockeys, horsemen, and employees is our top priority,” said P.J. Campo, vice president of racing for The Stronach Group and general manager of Gulfstream Park, which leases the Gulfstream Park West facility from Churchill Downs. “Because weather conditions the next few days remain uncertain, we thought it was best to call off the next few days and kick off the Gulfstream Park West meet over the weekend.”

Entries for both Saturday and Sunday’s programs at Gulfstream Park West were drawn Wednesday, with 10 races each day. Only two races were carded on the grass for Saturday, including the five-furlong allowance feature. Sunday’s main event mirrored the conditions of the statebred allowance feature from Thursday’s canceled program.

Gulfstream Park West, formerly Calder Race Course, has had to deal with several other hurricanes. The track sustained damage to the grandstand and barn area during Hurricane Wilma in the fall of 2005. Several months earlier, management was forced to postpone the Summit of Speed program one day due to the effects of Hurricane Dennis. Racing was also canceled at Calder for two days when Hurricane Frances passed through in 2004. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed areas of South Florida, but the track escaped serious damage.

– additional reporting by David Grening