Gulfstream Park is preparing for a big expansion in its schedule, with a goal of having what it calls year-round horse racing starting in 2014.
Gulfstream now has thoroughbred racing from early December through early April, the glamorous part of South Florida’s racing year. Calder Casino & Race Course has it the other eight months.
Calder plans to keep its April through November schedule, regardless of changes Gulfstream might make, said John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager for racing.
Gulfstream’s change would be having races at least several days most weeks each year from early 2014 onward, said Tim Ritvo, the track’s president. Gulfstream would continue to race five days a week during its winter season, he said.
If neither track backs down from its plan, they face the unwelcome prospect of head-to-head racing during some weeks in 2014.
They have until Feb. 28 to resolve differences and set race dates for the 12 months beginning July 1, 2013.
Gulfstream is timing its racing expansion plan to coincide with finishing the first part of a massive development project, for which it has not announced a price.
Construction is set to begin in April on two trackside hotels and two new grandstand sections.
Work will be carried out near Gulfstream’s track between April and November in 2013. Thus, Gulfstream plans to leave that part of 2013 to Calder for racing.
Gulfstream and its parent Stronach Group of Aurora, Ontario, are preparing an expansion that includes racing while officials of Churchill Downs Inc., Calder’s parent that is based in Louisville, Ky., have recently said their company’s expansion will be in gaming other than live racing.
That is leading to expectations in the racing industry that Gulfstream might offer financial incentives in areas such as simulcast wagering to convince Calder to reduce its racing schedule, said Scott Savin, a horse owner who was Gulfstream’s president from 1999 to 2006.
Savin is now chief operating officer at Magic City Casino, a greyhound track in Miami.
Racing dates are set through June 30, 2013, for the two tracks, which are eight miles apart.
Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, will end its 2012-2013 race meet on April 5. Calder will open the following day and has the dates through June 30, 2013.
They have until Feb. 28 to give the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering their race dates for the 12 months between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
Since 2002, Florida horse tracks have picked their own schedules with approval of dates and license renewals that are usually automatic from the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
If two neighboring tracks pick overlapping dates, it would not prevent that state agency from giving approvals, said its spokeswoman, Sandi Poreda.
Calder and Gulfstream must submit their first date filings by Jan. 4. They can amend filings up until Feb. 28.
“We will file for the same dates we have now,” Marshall said.
Saud Ritvo: “We will start our 2013-2014 meet around Dec. 1 and then begin year-round racing.”
That could result in head-to-head racing during the spring of 2014.
Calder and Gulfstream had a similar dates dispute early in 2011.
Calder had been racing from late April through early January, and Gulfstream had the other months.
After negotiations, the tracks agreed to let Gulfstream take December in return for giving Calder two additional weeks in April.