Friday, July 18 — Gulfstream Park announced on Thursday that it will increase purses an average of 10 percent starting with its July 24 Condition Book and also offer a $250 starter incentive to help horsemen offset the cost of workers’ compensation.
In a news release, Gulfstream said the purse increase is the result of an agreement signed July 1 between Gulfstream and Calder Casino & Race Course that ended a dates conflict and head-to-head weekend racing.
Gulfstream did not provide specific numbers. But a comparison of upcoming Fridays shows purses of $194,375 for nine races on July 18 and of $238,000 for nine races July 25. Both days’ numbers include Florida Owners’ Awards.
Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., added that “since the agreement was signed, Gulfstream’s total handle and field size has increased significantly.” It did not provide specific numbers,.
However, a Blood-Horse review of Equibase Co. charts showed that Gulfstream averaged an impressive $3.9 million in all-sources handle for its eight race days between July 1 and July 13.
The last day of head-to-head racing was June 29. Gulfstream’s average daily handle was in the $3 million range and Calder’s was in the $800,000 to $900,000 range during the second half of June.
This past weekend of July 11-13, Gulfstream had average daily all-sources handle of $4.3 million. Gulfstream had 30 races over the three days with an average of 9.6 starters per race. It averaged about eight horses per race during the second half of last month.
Last weekend’s average wagering per day on Gulfstream races was 59 percent higher than its $2.7 million on the June 27 to June 29 weekend–the last during which Calder also had racing.
Gulfstream added that it has also made significant strides in reinvigorating the Florida 2-year-old program and the $1.4 million Florida Sire Stakes, which begins August 9.
“The solid increases we’ve seen in field size and handle confirms our long-held belief that a dates agreement would benefit racing and horsemen,” Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo said. “Our strategy is to continue building Florida racing for our bettors, horsemen and breeders and create a healthy year-round racing program.”
Ritvo added: “Because of our increase in handle we will offer a $250 starter bonus to our horsemen through October 4 to help offset the cost of workers’ compensation. While this will help in the short-term, our goal continues to work with horsemen on a long-term solution to workers’ compensation.”
Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), said: “Florida horsemen are excited about summer racing again for the first time in years. A purse increase, starter incentive, the best field sizes in the country, and a track that is marketing and publicizing the sport. Why wouldn’t we be optimistic?”
Gulfstream is in its summer meet that will run through Oct. 4. It has racing Thursdays through Sundays, with first post time of 1:15 p.m.