01/15/2015 11:11AM

Heavy rain floods temporary stalls at Calder


Approximately 100 horses in temporary stalls erected in a parking area at Calder Race Course were allowed to move back into a closed area of the track’s backstretch this week after the temporary stalls were flooded by heavy rain Tuesday morning, according to track officials and horsemen.

The horses likely will move back into the temporary stalls by the end of Thursday, according to Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The rains flooded one section of the parking area that was used to put up the stalls and resulted in some horses standing in water, Combest said.

Horsemen’s officials asked Calder’s owner, Churchill Downs Inc., for permission to move the horses back into the closed area, and Churchill acceded, Combest said.

“It was as much rain as I’ve seen in a year, which was strange because it’s the dry season,” Combest said. “Those horses that were standing in water, we reached an agreement with Calder to use those stalls until they dried out.”

A Churchill spokeswoman, Courtney Norris, confirmed that Calder agreed to let horsemen use the stalls temporarily.

Churchill closed the backstretch area as of Jan. 1, though many horses remained in the area for several days until horsemen could find alternate stabling and the temporary stalls could be built. The temporary stalls were built on an area of the Calder property controlled by Gulfstream Park under a lease that the track reached with Calder last summer. The lease allows Gulfstream to run a race meet at Calder for the next six years, and it gives Gulfstream control over several areas of the Calder property.

Combest said that most of the horses in the temporary stalls will move into stalls at Gulfstream Park and other training facilities in south Florida as they become available. Gulfstream is building a barn with room for 150 horses, a project that is expected to be completed by mid-February, but some of those stalls will be used for horses entered in the March 4 Fasig-Tipton sale of 2-year-olds in training at the track. After those horses move out, the remaining horses in the temporary stalls likely will get assigned the new stalls.

“At the outside, it’s going to be at most eight to 10 more weeks” in the temporary stalls, Combest said.