Gulfstream Signs Agreement With FHBPA -By Jim Freer

Gulfstream Signs Agreement With FHBPA

Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 9:13 PM
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 5:02 PM

Gulfstream Park
announced Feb. 16 that it has signed a contract with the Florida Horsemen’s
Benevolent and Protective Association that will run from March 1 of this year
through December 2012.

The two parties reached the agreement on Feb. 15,
said Tim Ritvo, vice president of racing for Gulfstream and for its parent MI

Gulfstream began its 2011 race meet on Jan. 5 and will end
its season on April 24. In an unusual arrangement the Hallandale Beach, Fla.,
track and the Florida HBPA signed a contract for race purses and other financial
and operational matters only through Feb. 28, 2011.

Last December, Ritvo
said Gulfstream did not want a contract for the full 2011 meet and calendar year
until it reached agreement with the Florida HPBA on several non-purse

On Feb. 16, he said negotiations went smoothly” and that
Gulfstream and the Florida HBPA have a new contract through the end of 2012 that
includes several significant items.

Perhaps the most important is that if
Florida changes a law that prohibits night-time Thoroughbred racing, the Florida
HPBA will allow Gulfstream to hold races up until 9 p.m. on two weekdays each
week. Under the contract, racing after 7 p.m. would not be permitted on weekends
at Gulfstream.

Florida prohibits Thoroughbred tracks from starting races
after 7 p.m. Gulfstream is hoping that the Florida Legislature will change that
law during its 2011 session between March 8 and May 6. Gulfstream does not have
a detailed plan on when it might begin night racing during its next meet, Ritvo

Gulfstream for more than a decade has started its racing season in
early January. But in a preliminary filing with the Florida Division of
Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Gulfstream said it plans to begin its next race meet on
Dec. 2, 2011.

For more than a decade, Calder Casino & Race Course has
been the only southeast Florida track with live racing in December. In its
preliminary filing with the Florida DPMW, Calder said it intends to race
throughout the entire month of December 2011.

The filings have raised the
prospect of the two tracks, eight miles apart, racing head-to-head throughout
that month. They have until Feb. 28 to submit final date filings to the Florida
DPMW for the 12 months beginning July 1, 2011.

Since 2002, Florida
Thoroughbred tracks have picked their dates with basically rubber stamp approval
from the Florida HBPA.

Ritvo said that officials of MID and of Churchill
Downs Inc., Calder’s parent, met during the week that ended on Feb. 11 to
discuss several issues, including southeast Florida racing dates.

Rogers, MID’s vice president of racing operations, is the MID official
designated to comment on the racing dates issue. Rogers could not be reached for
comment. CDI officials could not be reached on the evening of Feb.

The agreement Gulfstream reached with the Florida HBPA on Feb. 16
will give Gulfstream additional flexibility in determining the number of races
on weekdays, takeouts and race sponsorships.

In a matter where Gulfstream
did not need Florida HPBA approval but worked with it to arrange details, Ritvo
said the track will have later first post times, likely 3 p.m., on its last four
Fridays this year. The last race on those days would end shortly before 7 p.m.

The purse portion of the contract is the same as in 2010 and for the
first two months of 2011, Ritvo said. That includes a 50-50 division of takeout
on wagering on live racing.
“There was never a
doubt that we would sign this contract before the end of this month,” said Sam
Gordon, president of the Florida HBPA.

“There was no
issue about purses,” Gordon said. “The horsemen always have had a good
relationship with Gulfstream. We decided to make the contract two years so that
rather than talking about this again, we can devote our efforts toward working
on the problems within the industry.”

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