Gulfstream Lands Year-Round Simulcast Rights; Calder Appeals

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As Gulfstream Park and Calder racetrack get closer to their South Florida showdown, the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has given the green light for Gulfstream to run one day, June 25, allowing the Stronach Group track the right to benefit from simulcast wagering year-round.

In recent years, Calder owned simulcast rights from the time the Gulfstream Park winter-spring meet closed in April until Gulfstream reopened in December. According to statute, any wagering outlet in Florida wanting to simulcast Thoroughbred racing had to purchase the signal through the track operating a live meeting, which meant Calder benefited financially from the Triple Crown races, Breeders’ Cup, and premier summer meetings at Saratoga, Del Mar and Monmouth Park.

This year, by operating one day in late June and technically continuing their winter-spring meets (near the end of Florida’s fiscal year ending June 30), both Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs can bypass Calder, importing signals directly from out-of-state host tracks and re-selling them to other Florida pari-mutuel outlets, including dog tracks and jai-alai frontons.

Calder has challenged the move, filing an appeal with the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.


In the meantime, in addition to preparing for the eight-race program on June 25, Gulfstream is getting ready to go head-to-head against Calder each weekend, beginning in July. The meeting will start with a special Monday program on July 1 that Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo hopes will attract some top jockeys, including Kentucky Derby-winning rider Joel Rosario, to raise money for the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

“We intend to run,” said Ritvo. “Our goal is to eventually have a very legitimate summer meeting. We are still constantly available to negotiate with Churchill Downs. We reached out to them to say, ‘What can we do in the best interests of Florida racing and the horsemen?’ It’s not just about (simulcasting) and being a host. Now we have to maintain our stable area year-round.”

Ritvo estimated the early portion of the meeting beginning in July will have daily overnight purses of $200,000-$250,000, plus some stakes.

“We are ready to go,” Ritvo said. The renovation to the dirt track is almost completed, he said, referencing a new drainage system and sandier composition to the surface that will be needed during the rainy summer season. “It will be one of the fastest-drying tracks in racing,” he added. A gate crew, many of them who previously worked at Calder, have been hired by Gulfstream Park, Ritvo said.

Three hundred new horses have arrived at Gulfstream Park since the main portion of the winter-spring meet ended, Ritvo said. “I’m not concerned about the horse population,” he said. “I am concerned with some of the people at Calder who want to help, and if Calder goes with a no-ship policy (meaning anyone who stables at Calder and races at Gulfstream will not be allowed back in the Calder stable area), we want to have spots available for them.”

Ritvo also said he is “100% certain” Gulfstream Park will have a contract with the HBPA, something Calder does not currently have. “We are trying to work with all parties involved,” he said. “We already have a long-term agreement with the horsemen for slots for both of our licenses (Gulfstream has a second pari-mutuel license that it could use to add slot machines to its facility). “Our corporate initiatives are to grow revenue, not just to cut up existing revenue. We think racing can be viable on its own and we can grow the revenue. We’ve proven that for three years in a row.”

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  • Francis Bush

    A little competition never hurts. Frankly, I have played Calder quite a few times. The payoff reminds me of Laurel racing. A horse at 3/5 rarely loses, particularly when the fields are short. Most of the wagering fans prefer at least 8/5 for a gambling chance. Maybe Gulfstream will provide enough wagering interest to reduce Calder’s low payoff. The fans need a fighting chance.

  • Knowitall

    Watching Frank b-slap CDI is worth whatever the price of admission. No entity ever had it coming to them more.

  • Graustark

    “And the sharks have pearly teeth…”.

  • Richard C

    The battle of the titans — and Gulfstream is the odds-on favorite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cougar.paisley Cougar Paisley

    Ray,

    Just an editing observation. Your article quotes “Ritvo”, but I saw no introduction as to who or which Ritvo was being interviewed. I’m sure you were talking to Tim, the Gulfstream Park president, and not his wife, the trainer.

    • RayPaulick

      Thank you for pointing out that oversight, which has been corrected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Lunny/1635313352 Bob Lunny

    Since when did Ritvo have the best interest of Florida racing in any of this bottom line decision making.

  • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

    The greedy clowns from the downs are a disgrace to “The Game”…Frankie boy is not one of my hero’s either but anytime anybody can step on that ugly head it tickles the hell out of me!!!…

  • David

    For a change Florida has it right; the more you can lessen Regulator’s hold on this business, the better. Yes, licensing fees, yes oversight, yes rule of law/penalties, no to (pari-mutuel) tax, no to subjective date allocation, no to attempts to accord weak operations/markets equality. Time to switch things up.

  • Kingturf

    Let’s not forget Hialeah is about to jump into this mix as well. It’s a shame the 3 tracks won’t work on a deal where they could rotate the dates but regulate the take out. Hialeah went down in flames when they was greedy and had a high take out rate back in the 90′s where it was 20% for flat bets and 26% for all exotics.

    • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

      CDI & Frankie will never ever get along…Book It…

  • salthebarber

    Ray, help us out here. If Gulfstream got control of their simulcast revenues, why are they still going ahead with their summer weekend racing schedule? What are they looking for?

    • Knowitall

      I could have this wrong, but I think they want to crush Calder and set precedent for free market racing calendar.

      Ray?

  • casino boat

    CD doesn’t allow southern ind otb to play any ky race tracks-including the BC when they host. I don’t miss em

  • Annoymous

    I want to see which high profile trainer send their horses to Florida in the hottest part of the summer for purses $250,000 a day instead of Saratoga where purses will be near $1 Million a day. Gulfstream is only going to cheapen their operation, ruin their turf course, and create havoc for the Florida Horsemen. I just do not understand how they think they can run a quality meet there. Also, the purse they are using for the summer meet has to come from somewhere and that place is from the purses usually allocated for the winter meet, so if it flops then they will have to cut purses this winter. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

    • Knowitall

      Do you really think they were hoping to attract Saratoga level horses? Do you really think that a separate meet’s purses from handle will effect the separate premier winter meet? Do you not understand they hope to bury Calder and take a vast majority of their horses as well as shippers from the midwest and mid atlantic?

      • annoymous

        First of all it absolutely comes from the same purse money. You cant just up and decide to add extra days to a meet and start with a purse account of “0″ so they have to borrow from the winter meet purses. Now if its a great success then they shouldnt have a problem, but if its not they run the risk of having to trim purses in the winter. Second, what is the point of running a meet where the object is to attract bad horses. They are known as a premiere race course, attracting second rate trainers only cheapens the image of racing at Gulfstream park, not to mention in July the betting public is so focused on the tremendous racing at Saratoga and Del Mar they are going to have any interest for mediocre racing in Florida. Third, its impossible to bury a track that has a huge corporate following and slot machines. Calder will just cut purses and cut purses until they cant cut anymore and they will still make the same amount of money in the casino. All they are doing are putting the horsemen in a terrible situation.

  • THE ENFORCER

    KINGTURF–WHERE HAS THERE BEEN MENTION THAT HIALEAH IS IN THE MIX– I WISH THIS WERE TRUE….DO YOU THINK GP WANTS TO ALLOW THE GRAND OLD DAME/HIALEAH ANY DATES WHEN THEY ARE TRYING TO PUT CDI/CRC. OUT OF THE DATES BUSINESS??

    SHOULD GP BE ALLOWED YEAR ROUND RACING, WHEN THE GP PLANT CANNOT SERVE THE RACING MARKET DUE TO INADEQUATE SEATING??

    SHOULD THE DPMW BE ALLOWED TO REGULATE ANYTHING– WHEN THEY ALLOWED GP TO BUILD SUCH A PLANT??

    BOB C. AND I WOULD LUV TO SEE HIALEAH WITH WINTER T-BRED DATES..

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