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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Gulfstream set to race year-round

By Jim Freer
Bloodhorse



Gulfstream Park's preliminary filing for racing dates shows it plans to have racing every week, in some cases just on Saturdays and Sundays, with a total of 153 race days during the 12 months beginning July 1.

As part of Florida's system under which horse tracks pick their own racing dates, Gulfstream submitted its filing Dec. 31 to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Gulfstream's filing listed 35 of the same Saturday and Sunday weekends Calder Casino & Race Course listed in the preliminary filing it submitted Dec. 31.

That potential overlap will be an early major issue in an anticipated battle between the two tracks, which are located eight miles apart, over racing dates in southeast Florida. They have until Feb. 28 to resolve their differences.

The Gulfstream filing shows that, at least for now, it intends to begin what it calls "year-round racing" in July 2013 rather than its previously stated target of January 2014.

"We're running year-round because this has become a year-round facility," Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said in a statement the evening of Jan. 2. "We think it will be beneficial to us and the horsemen."

Gulfstream, located in Hallandale Beach, has set April 2013 for the start of a massive development project that will include two trackside hotels and two new grandstand sections. The original plan was to have no racing during a construction period from April through November this year.

Now, Gulfstream is either ready to have construction just on weekdays, or might be seeking leverage in its expected effort to negotiate with Calder on dates for 2014. Calder, located in Miami Gardens, submitted a preliminary filing that retains its early April through late November schedule with 150 racing dates.

The potential head-to-head weekends are from July through November in 2013 and from April through June in 2014. Since 2002, Florida tracks have picked their own racing dates with approval that is usually automatic from the Florida DPMW.

The preliminary filing period is from Dec. 15 to Jan. 4. Tracks can amend their filings an unlimited number of times through Feb. 28 -- for dates between July 1, 2013, and June 2014.

If two neighboring tracks pick overlapping dates it would not prevent the Florida DPMW from giving approvals. Florida race dates are set through June 30 with no overlap.

Gulfstream will end its 2012-13 meet April 5. Calder will begin its 2013 meet April 6 and has the dates through June 30.