The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association (FHBPA) has announced a deal with Gulfstream Park to move forward with the running of the 2017 Sunshine Millions.
This announcement is in response to the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) declining to fund and participate in the 2017 Sunshine Millions Series. The Sunshine Millions is a series of Florida-bred races to be run at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 21. FHBPA president Bill White said in a statement: “We are pleased to announce the Sunshine Millions races will go forward. The FHBPA and Gulfstream Park will continue to fund the races by respectively putting up $300,000 each for a total of $600,000 spread over five races.”
The FHBPA, while working with Gulfstream Park, also hammered out an agreement to keep the races restricted to Florida-breds. “Keeping these races as a Florida-Bred series was a key consideration for the FHBPA in response to the FTBOA’s withdrawal of their funding,” added White.
Similarly, in the past, the FTBOA also had chosen not to participate or fund their share of the Sunshine Millions. The negative impact of that decision resulted in the series being opened up to out-of-state-bred horses.
The new 2017 agreement between the FHBPA and Gulfstream Park initiates and sets the stage to promote and grow Florida-bred racing opportunities in South Florida. The FHBPA, in cooperation with Gulfstream Park, has plans to create a series of Florida-bred /Florida-bred preferred stakes during the 2017 racing calendar. “The FHBPA is willing to step up and fund our own Florida-bred stake races,” said White. “We are excited at the prospect of creating more opportunities for our Florida-based owners, trainers and breeders with the creation of a series of stake races contested in the non-championship time of the year.”
In addition, the 2017 general purse agreement was recently signed between the FHBPA and Gulfstream Park. A key term of the agreement calls for the elimination of a lingering overpayment in the non-championship meet purse account which has been in the $3-million to $4-million range. That overpayment was to be reduced to zero at the end of 2016 and includes a cap on any future overpayments.
“The horsemen will be able to start the 2017 non-championship meet with a balanced purse account, which should result in more predictable race cards and purses. This will better reflect the current handle at the track which has been setting records for the last couple of years,” said Glen Berman, who took over as executive director of the FHBPA earlier in 2016. “The constant overpayment status of the purse account had left current horsemen paying the bills of past years’ meets.”
White concluded: “The FHBPA is trying to do our part in responding to the input and concerns that we have received from owners, trainers, and breeders statewide.”