Calder: Calabrese packing up and leaving
By Mike Welsch
MIAMI – Owner Frank Calabrese’s decision to run his stable year-round in south Florida was short-lived. Just five weeks into the Calder meeting, Calabrese has announced his intention to ship all 48 horses he presently has stabled on the grounds to Monmouth Park for the remainder of the summer.
Calabrese, who traditionally had spent his summers racing at Arlington Park, opted to stay on in south Florida and race at Calder on a regular basis for the first time this year following at the conclusion of the Gulfstream Park meet. But he said Thursday the economics of racing here along with the threat of a purse cut because of the ongoing dispute between the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Calder management forced his hand and led to his decision to go to Monmouth.
“They’re talking about cutting purses from 10 to 15 percent here, and I’ll lose a ton of money if I stay and they do that,” said Calabrese. “I called Monmouth and they gave me 48 stalls, so we’re moving out Monday.”
Calabrese is presently the leading owner at the meet, while his trainer, Nick Canani, was tied for the lead in the trainer standings with Henry Collazo with 11 wins apiece entering Friday’s card.
“They have no money here,” said Calabrese. “They got no money at Arlington either, which is why I decided to try it at Calder this summer in the first place. I’m the last of the older-timers in this business. I claim horses, I buy good horses. Guys like me keep the game going, I think. It’s time horsemen start sticking together so we can make some money. The tracks don’t understand if there aren’t any owners and any horsemen that there will be no tracks.”
Calabrese said his decision to ship out is final even if the horsemen and management settle their current issues before Monday.
“I’m committed to going to Monmouth now,” said Calabrese.
Calabrese, who owns a home locally, said he does plan to return to the area in November. The Calder season ends on Dec. 2.
“Gulfstream opens its backstretch in November, and as soon as it does, we’ll be back here.”
One man sorry to see Calabrese go is Calder’s racing secretary, Mike Anifantis.
“We’ll miss his entries,” said Anifantis. “He ran a lot of horses here. I talked to Nick this morning, and he told me Frank looked at the economics and with all of the talk of the purse cuts he just got antsy.”
Calder’s vice president and general manger of racing, John Marshall, echoed Anifantis’ sentiments regarding Calabrese’s sudden departure.
“I’m disappointed to see Frank and Nick leave,” said Marshall. “But I also fully understand the reasoning for his decision, and I wish both all the best at Monmouth.”
Turf mile heads Saturday card
There is no stakes racing at Calder on Saturday, with the 11th event, a $29,000 second-level optional claimer, topping the card. The headliner is scheduled to be run at one mile on the turf weather permitting and drew a field of nine including Imperial Czar who is entered for the main track only.
John Johny Jak, winner of the restricted Carterista Stakes on closing day at Gulfstream, will be favored over a field that also includes top contenders Flatter This and Saratoga Matt in the feature.
A half-hour earlier, the multiple stakes placed Rough N Royal will make his 3-year-old debut in an entry level allowance dash going 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track. Rough N Royal has not raced since finishing third in the one mile and 70 yard Foolish Pleasure here on Sept. 25 for trainer David Braddy.