09/24/2001 11:00PM

Hialeah asks groups for cash


MIAMI - Hialeah Park Chairman John Brunetti issued an appeal on Monday to the leaders of Gulfstream Park, Calder Race Course, and four other organizations with ties to south Florida racing to help finance his plan to provide training and stabling facilities at Hialeah this winter. Hialeah Park will not conduct a live race meet in 2002.

Brunetti asked for contributions of $270,000 each from Gulfstream, Calder, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Florida Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association, Fasig Tipton Sales Co. and the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. to cover costs he estimated at $9,000 a day to open the barn area from Nov. 1 through April 30. Hialeah has been soliciting stall applications for the winter season during much of the past month at a cost of $2,500 per stall.

"Since we have not received an adequate number of reservations, due primarily to the cost of funding , this plan we cannot go further," Brunetti said in his appeal, adding that he is seeking a commitment by Oct. 5 and that without unanimous consent "we cannot go forward."

Gulfstream Park General Manager Scott Savin has been on record for several months that his track has no intention to subsidize a training facility at Hialeah. Calder General Manager Randy Soth said "an expenditure of $270,000 would need some affirmation from Churchill Downs Inc. and my initial reaction is that there would not be any interest." Linda Mills, president of the Florida HBPA, said "I'm obligated to take the request to the board of directors for their consideration, but it's certainly not a planned item in the budget this year."

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who kept a full barn at Hialeah including several of the top horses in his stable the past several winters, said he already has stall applications in at the Fair Grounds and New York for the winter while adding he is also considering sending horses to California. "Without Hialeah all I'll be able to bring to Florida is the 29 horses I have stabled at Gulfstream," said Pletcher. "It will definitely hurt both the quantity and quality of horses to race at Gulfstream this winter if Hialeah's barn area is closed."