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Gulfstream Horsemen's Meeting September 12, 2013

Kathy Davey – FHBPA Secretary
Next meeting: Thursday, September 26th.
Approximately 38 people were in attendance at today’s meeting.
Horsemen’s Backstretch Committee meets every other Thursday; the members are: Leo Azpurua, Joe Calascibetta, Phil Combest, Greg Griffiths, Barry Rose, Peter Walder, Milt Wolfson. Bring your concerns to them and they will meet with Tim for further discussion and action.  Items addressed at recent meetings include:

  • The track now opens at 5:30 am every day and the break is now from 7:30 – 8:00 am.
  • Additional lighting has been ordered to improve visibility during training hours.  The lights are very powerful 135 Watt LED and need to be specially constructed.
  • A warning system connecting the siren with track-level warning lights has been ordered and will be installed.
  • It was decided not to move the starting gate to the other gap because too many horses enter the track there.

Additional concerns about the condition and maintenance of the track and the horse paths:

  • the maintenance crew has been picking rocks by hand on the horse paths on a regular basis.
  • 28 truckloads of sand have been brought in and will be slowly and methodically mixed in especially at the outer rim of the track along with other material.  Comprehensive track depth charts will be posted on a regular basis at the main HBPA office (Now Open at Gulfstream!).  The soil mixture has been tested and it is now very close to the Calder mix.

RFP’s were sent out for the new shavings contract and are due back on September 16.  GP is open to the possibility to return to using straw bedding, but this is more economical and has been working out well for the most part.
Electricity upgrades in the barns are ongoing and the project should be finished by the end of September.
Work proceeds well on the new 35′ high “Tent Barns” at the south end of the racetrack. Detailed plans for the stalls were shown and are available to view at the HBPA office.  They are 12′ x 12′, have sliding stall doors, and are nearly 8′ high.  Tent 1 will be completed by October 15, and Tent 2 shortly thereafter.  Tack rooms, feed rooms and bathrooms will also be provided in that area. Provided dorms there is also being discussed.
There was a lengthy discussion about various aspects of “race entry day” e.g., entering races late, entering “short races” that trainers know won’t go to get “entry credit,” getting information on whether races will go or not, who and/or how many are in each race, jockeys’ agents having too much input into which races go, what races will be brought back, etc. These are issues that are discussed and struggled with on a daily basis by the racing office team and they are striving to improve the situation all the way around, and to find the right balance regarding giving out information.  The sense of the meeting was that trainers should be required to enter by noon.
Tim has a concern that slots revenue will disappear over time and the racing industry needs to be prepared for this eventuality, even though we should not give up the fight.  We must fix the racing model and he believes the 3 key aspects to overcoming these obstacles and ultimately being successful are integrity, field size, and quality. The host fee structure needs to give more back to the tracks and horsemen.
The state has proposed revamping the rules on pari-mutuels and racing and there are hearings scheduled in October.  Many, if not most, of the new rules being proposed are ridiculous and have clearly been drawn up by people who either have no idea about the industry or want to assure that the industry will not survive.  However, this is giving us in the industry the opportunity to fix the situation and we must take advantage of it!
The importance of coming up with uniform standards regarding medication use/abuse was discussed.  The integrity of the sport in Florida is at stake.