10/25/2005 12:00AM

Hurricane shutters Calder through at least Friday


Calder Race Course has canceled live racing at least through Friday after suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Wilma on Monday. Calder is located on the border of Dade and Broward Counties, which were among the areas hardest hit when Wilma passed across south Florida early Monday.

According to track officials, several barns on the Calder backstretch lost their roofs during the storm, the infield tote board was destroyed, while the main grandstand suffered minor damage, with one window blown out. Numerous trees and sections of fencing and railings were also down throughout the property, and the track remained without electrical power as of late Tuesday afternoon.Calder's president, Ken Dunn, said the track would be able to reopen for simulcasting when power is restored to the plant. No target date had been set for resumption of live racing. The Tropical at Calder meet runs through Jan. 2.

"The cleanup and repair process is under way, and we hope to resume daily simulcast operations as soon as possible after electrical power is restored," said Dunn. "We decided the best course of action was to cancel live racing at least through Friday in order to expedite repairs to our main facility and stable area and to ensure both the dirt and turf courses are ready for the resumption of live racing.

"Gulfstream Park has offered to open its two receiving barns as early as Thursday to house Calder horses while their barns are repaired. The Gulfstream barn area is scheduled to open for the 2006 meeting on Nov. 14.

Gulfstream's president, Scott Savin, said: "We're ready to open up 68 stalls in our two receiving barns and will provide more help if necessary," - at Gulfstream or at the Palm Meadows training center, like Gulfstream owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. - "depending upon Calder's plans for repairing the damaged barns.

"Savin said Gulfstream appeared to suffer only minimal damage in the storm, although a complete assessment of the property - including the new grandstand under construction - had not been made as of Tuesday.

"Right now it looks like we suffered minimal roof and internal damage to the new building," said Savin. "Both the main and turf courses appear in pretty good shape, as is the barn area other than some sheds that got tossed around and a lot of landscaping that was destroyed. The biggest loss at the property was the infield Jumbotron screen.

We probably will lose at least the rest of this week's work on the new building due to power and employee issues, which obviously is critical at this point, although we're still optimistic we can remain on schedule to be ready for opening day. Considering the ferocity of the storm, things could have been a lot worse.

"Savin said the Palm Meadows facility in Boynton Beach also sustained fairly extensive damage from Hurricane Wilma. Palm Meadows was scheduled to accept horses on Nov. 1, but Savin said that date might be pushed back a week to Nov. 8.

The 2006 Gulfstream meet opens on Jan. 4.