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Monday, July 8, 2013

Stop The Madness In Florida

Thoroughbred racing in Florida appears to be getting more dysfunctional with every passing day. Gulfstream and Calder, south Florida's two major venues, are running head-to-head on weekends right now, even going so far as to have the same post time, although as this article by Jim Freer on bloodhorse.com notes, Calder has been running their races off so they don't conflict with Gulfstream's. As you can see in that article as well, while both tracks are claiming wagering success, wagering on the Summit of Speed card at Calder did show a decline of a few hundred thousand dollars from 2013 to this year. Gulfstream has also applied to be the host of the Florida Stallion Series Stakes in 2014, an event Calder has been the site of since 1982 and would like to continue to host.

This has caused issues for horsemen as well. Gulfstream is allowing horses to race anywhere they want and remain stabled at the track, but Calder has taken a much more restrictive approaching, prohibiting horses that race anywhere else in the state of Florida from returning to the track. As this previous article about the situation explains, Calder's strategy isn't just aimed at Gulfstream, but also Tampa Bay Downs, which ran two days (June 30 and July 1). This article explains Tampa Bay Downs' approach. Since they ran those two days, Tampa Bay Downs is now a full-time simulcast host, and now longer has to accept wagers through Calder. That upset officials at Calder, and at the time, they indicated it could lead to purse cuts.

This fight between Calder and Gulfstream, and even Tampa Bay Downs, must get resolved not just for the health of racing in Florida, but for the health of the sport in general. Throw in the continued flap about parimutuel barrel racing in the Sunshine State, and there are even more problems. What is the solution? Calder and Gulfstream need to work out a lease or some other similar type of agreement where Gulfstream could run some of Calder's dates. The sooner this happens the better, and the state must show proper leadership and get involved to get it resolved. While the tracks are claiming wagering bonanzas, the biggest field (after scratches) on Sunday at Calder and Gulfstream were only seven horses, which is not as attractive as it would be if there was only one track in operation.

There is nothing wrong with healthy competition for wagering dollars between tracks, but in this case, the tracks are hurting each other and in turn, hurting the horseplayers, and it needs to end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It helps me! I disagree that It's "hurting the horseplayers" I moved over and started betting Gulfstream which has the lower takeout.This Horseplayer is benefiting from the competition.