Summit of Speed notebook

Calder blames Gulfstream for dates rift

 

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

A dates conflict between Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course was nearly averted at one time. But negotiations between the two thoroughbred tracks collapsed after Gulfstream “acted in bad faith,” according to a Calder executive.

John Marshall, vice president and general manager of racing at Calder, said a deal between the two tracks was nearly worked out at one time. Calder agreed to run a condensed meet — one of either 40 or 87 days — while allowing Gulfstream to expand its meet.

“We gave Gulfstream everything they wanted,” Marshall said Saturday. “We even allowed Gulfstream to select the days we were going to run.

“They had total control on how they wanted to utilize Calder’s assets to assist their meet.”

But Marshall said negotiations collapsed over the payment of racing purses tied to revenues generated by Calder’s casino.

“Where it broke down is Gulfstream agreed to participate in what we call a ‘make-whole payment,’ ” Marshall said. “Any damages that Calder would incur, Gulfstream would make those whole and pointed out horsemen were willing to participate through a casino purse reduction. Well, lo and behold, we come to find the horsemen had no idea about this and never agreed.”

The result: Gulfstream and Calder are operating head to head on Saturdays and Sundays.

Marshall said Calder has “left the door open” to Gulfstream for negotiations, but that any discussions in the future would have to occur at the corporate level. Calder is owned by Churchill Downs.

“Discussions at the local level are not going to resume,” he said.

• Horses stabled at Calder are being allowed to race at Gulfstream, but only on a “case-by-case basis.”

“We expect horses stabled at Calder to run at Calder,” Marshall said.

• As an enticement to attract horses, Gulfstream is offering higher purses than Calder. Marshall wondered how long that could continue.

“Trainers and owners have to ask themselves how long that could that last,” Marshall said. “A race track can only pay out what they generate.

“So how long does it go on if a race track pays purses in excess of what they’re generating? That doesn’t last forever.”

Double duty

Jockey Manoel Cruz rode horses at Gulfstream and Calder on Saturday. But it wasn’t easy.

Cruz rode early on Gulfstream’s card before driving to Calder in the middle of the afternoon to ride in its stakes races.

He said riding a 1,200-pound thoroughbred is easier than driving a car down Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

“I ride the horses much easier than drive the car,” Cruz said.

Cruz said not only was traffic congested, but his car was stopped by a train for 10 minutes.

Read more Horse Racing stories from the Miami Herald

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