By Jim Freer
Gulfstream Park on Wednesday afternoon will draw entries for Saturday, and total purses for the day’s five Sunshine Millions stakes will be $600,000 rather than the originally scheduled $900,000.
Gulfstream cut those purses because the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association did not make its usual contribution to the Sunshine Millions races, which are restricted to Florida-breds.
Gulfstream and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association this year are continuing to provide money for Sunshine Millions purses.
Purses for the five Sunshine Millions stakes were scheduled to be the same as in 2016.
During the first week in January, Gulfstream decided to lower those purses due to the absence of money from the Florida TBOA.
That includes lowering the purse from a scheduled $250,000 to $200,000 for the featured Sunshine Millions Classic. That race is 1 1/8 miles on dirt for four-year-olds and up.
The purse was cut from $200,000 to $100,000 for the Sunshine Millions Distaff, at six furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares four-years-old and up.
Purses were cut from $150,000 to $100,000 on the other three stakes.
Those races are: Sunshine Millions Turf, 1 1/16 miles for four-year-olds and up; Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, 1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares, four-years-old and up; Sunshine millions Sprint, six furlongs on dirt, four-year-old and up.
The cut in purses is a consequence of a dispute between the Florida TBOA and the Florida HBPA over their roles in administering the Sunshine Millions and other stakes restricted to Florida-breds at Gulfstream.
The two groups have traditionally been allies on many business issues, as well as on political issues.
Following several months of discussions, the Florida FTBOA early this month backed away from an earlier commitment and is not providing money for 2017 Sunshine Millions purses.
Gulfstream officials are declining to comment on the dispute between the breeders and horsemen.
Gulfstream is hopeful that the Florida HBPA and Florida TBOA will soon agree to funding for the annual Florida Sire Stakes series that will begin in early August, said Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo.
Florida HBPA officials have declined to comment on funding for 2017 Florida-bred stakes.
The Florida TBOA has declined comment beyond a statement it issued on Dec. 16, in which it criticized the Florida HBPA for not accepting a Florida TBOA-proposed full-2017 funding plan for Florida-bred stakes.
Last fall, the Florida TBOA proposed and Gulfstream accepted an agreement for all of 2017 on how much money Gulfstream and each of the two industry groups would provide for the Sunshine Millions, Florida Sire Stakes, the Sunshine Millions Preview and other Gulfstream stakes for Florida-breds.
The Florida HBPA did not accept the proposal for a full-year funding. Instead, it agreed to provide money for the Sunshine Millions and then resume discussions on other Florida-bred stakes for 2017.
The Florida TBOA then withdrew its plan for 2017 and decided not to provide funding for Sunshine Millions purses.
Later this week, we will have previews and other coverage of the Sunshine Millions races and of the disputes that resulted in purse cuts.