03/01/2015 10:53AM

Sunday racing to go as scheduled after Saturday cancellation

Barbara D. Livingston
Sunday racing will go as scheduled at Gulfstream after Saturday's card was canceled part-way through due to inclement weather.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park will conduct its 12-race Sunday card as scheduled as some horsemen continue to combat backstretch flooding that resulted from torrential rain Saturday in south Florida.

Gulfstream was forced to cancel its Saturday card after five of 12 races were run. Two stakes that were canceled, the Grade 2 Swale and Grade 3 Palm Beach, will be run this coming Saturday.

As of 9 a.m. Eastern Sunday, the only road on the north end of the barn area (barns 1-12) was under more than a foot of water, making conditions treacherous for vehicles attempting to get through.

“I can’t get in there,” octogenarian trainer George Handy, whose small stable is housed in barn 5, said outside the Gulfstream racing office. “My groom tells me everything is OK though.”

Horses were reported safe and dry by trainers and Gulfstream officials, although some stalls were flooded by several inches of water during the peak of the rain Saturday afternoon. Those horses were temporarily evacuated to other barns.

Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said track personnel had been pumping out water from the affected areas since the flooding began. As for the main dirt track, it already was mostly dry by early Sunday morning, and training went on as scheduled, except for horses in the affected barns without access to the track.

Turf racing for Sunday also will be conducted as scheduled, said Ritvo, adding the course was in need of water after weeks of mostly dry conditions. First post Sunday is 12:30 p.m.

Ritvo said the receiving barn was dry and that shippers from Palm Meadows and other satellite training facilities were on their way to Gulfstream. It was not yet known how many horses would be scratched from the Sunday card because of the remaining water on the Gulfstream backstretch.

On the south side of the stable area, conditions were mostly normal Sunday morning, including the new barn being used for 2-year-olds in the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale here Wednesday. There is no racing here Wednesday because the sale will be held in the track’s walking ring.

The severe rain was big news throughout the region, as cars were stranded in flash flooding and numerous events were canceled or postponed, including Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park and PGA play in the Honda Classic tournament in Palm Beach Gardens.

In certain barns in the Gulfstream Park West stabling area, the situation was similar to what occurred on the north side of Gulfstream, with many of the auxiliary barns on the access road inundated with water yesterday.

“We’ve dealt with this situation several times already this winter,” said Phil Combest, president of the Florida division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “The horsemen spent the day cleaning up stalls and shed rows as best they could in trying to get back to normal [Sunday] morning.”

One of three stakes was run before the Saturday cancellation, with Devine Aida easily winning the Herecomesthebride, which was transferred from the turf to a very sloppy track. Shortly after the Herecomesthebride, the fifth race, the cancellation was announced.

DRF’s Raise Your Game handicapping contest Saturday in the Ten Palms restaurant at Gulfstream was declared no contest, with entry fees refunded and another contest to be scheduled at a later date.

Track officials scrambled to recall the most recent cancellation at Gulfstream. A track spokesman remembered a day and a half being lost in 1998 because of a sinkhole on the former dirt track in the vicinity of the eighth pole; one race was lost shortly after the new facility opened in 2006 because of a gate malfunction; and two races were lost on a 2010 card owing to a quarantine situation at Calder.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch