Calder Concludes 2006-07 Tropical Meet

Calder Race Course concluded its 35th Tropical Meet on Tuesday, Jan. 2, with declines in on-track wagering and attendance. The track’s meet-end results were negatively impacted by unseasonable amounts of rain that caused a 15.50 percent increase in the number of carded turf races that had to be switched to the main track, resulting in additional scratches.

Total wagering, including all sources from 60 days of live racing and 18 days of simulcast-only wagering, was $327.45 million compared to $321.79 million one year ago, an increase of 1.76 percent. The overall increase can be attributed to five more live racing days in 2006 than last year. Calder lost five race dates in 2005 due to Hurricane Wilma and its aftermath, including the chance to offer live racing on the date of the 2005 Breeders’ Cup World Championships when, due to storm-related damage, the track was only able to offer simulcast wagering. Due to the difference in race dates, average daily wagering and attendance numbers will be used for year-over-year comparisons (see table at bottom).

Average daily on-track wagering by patrons betting on Calder’s live races totaled $362,211 versus a daily average of $400,886 during the previous year, a decline of 9.65 percent. Total combined handle – which includes on-track, inter-track and interstate wagering on Calder’s live racing program – averaged $3.67 million each day, compared to an average of $3.97 million a year ago, a drop of 7.56 percent.

Factors contributing to the wagering decreases include an unseasonable amount of rainfall during the meet. The racetrack recorded more than 12 inches of rain during the months of November and December, compared to six inches of rain for the same time period last season. According to Calder’s racing office, inclement weather during the 2006-07 Tropical Meet caused more than 26 percent of carded turf races to be moved to the dirt surface, compared to only 10.5 percent last season. In addition, nearly 21 percent of the total races held were contested over “off” (not fast or firm) racing surfaces. As a result, the average runners per race for the 2006-07 Tropical Meet was 7.35 compared to 7.90 last year.

Average daily on-track attendance for the 2006-07 Tropical at Calder Meet was 3,843, representing a 6.77-percent decrease from the previous year’s average of 4,122. Average attendance on “dark” days – when the track offered full-card simulcasting – was 778, down 3.71 percent from last year’s average of 808.

“Last year we had a record number of hurricanes, but experienced good weather for most of the Tropical Meet, which is typically a dry time of year in South Florida,” said Calder President Ken Dunn. “This season, the weather has been summer-like and exceptionally wet. It is frustrating to have so many races come off the grass, because that typically results in more scratches. While we are pleased with the quality of our racing program, Mother Nature continued to challenge us this season. We believe our on-track attendance declines are due in part to the rainy weather and to the significant in-market competition Calder continues to face from other sports, gaming and entertainment facilities.”

Another issue Calder management faced during the final weeks of the Tropical Meet was the threat of the highly contagious and potentially fatal equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) that was spreading through segments of Florida’s horse population. While there were no confirmed cases of the virus at Calder, racing and training restrictions were placed on two barns in the Calder stable area, and Payson Park in Indiantown (Martin County), a popular training center for major racing outfits in the wintertime, was also under a state-imposed quarantine. The quarantine-related travel restrictions kept several horses from competing at Calder during the month of December and during the track’s Grand Slam III stakes event on Dec. 30.

Total purses for the meet were $12.84 million, compared to total purses of $11.52 million during the 2005-06 Tropical season. The daily average of $213,997 represents a 2.16 percent increase over last year’s daily average of $209,480.

Several big event days were held during the 2006-07 Tropical at Calder Meet, including The Florida Million on Nov. 11, three Grand Slam events on Dec. 2, 16 and 30, and Tropical Park Derby (Grade III) and Oaks Day on Jan. 1, 2007.

In addition, the track presented Extreme Day on Nov. 25, which was rescheduled from its original date of July 22 because of heavy rain that summer day. Extreme Day featured unconventional concepts such as The World’s Fastest Daily Double, when two races were run simultaneously using the turf course and main track, and the King George’s Wrong Way Stakes, featuring horses running clockwise (or European-style) on the turf course.

While the race for leading trainer and owner of the meet were decided on the last day, apprentice riding sensation Jermaine Bridgmohan wrapped up his first-ever title days ago. It was the first Tropical at Calder title for each leader this year.

Bridgmohan, who just started riding this summer at Calder, not only secured his first leading jockey title at the Tropical Meet but also smashed the single season record, previously held by Cornelio Velasquez at 84 after the 2002-03 season. Bridgmohan won a total of 110 races during the meet.

Trainer Kirk Ziadie astounded with a 53 percent win rate and 25 total wins. Bill White gave a good run at the title on closing day, winning three races on the afternoon, but still ended up one behind Ziadie in the final standings. White had been the leading Tropical trainer in five previous years. Dan Hurtak also won his first Tropical at Calder title as leading owner. His 10 victories edged out Steve Dwoskin by just one race. No stranger to success, Hurtak led the Tropical standings as leading training in 2001 and 2004.

Calder is scheduled to begin its 36th season of racing on April 25, 2007.

Calder Race Course, located on South Florida’s Miami-Dade / Broward county line, offers Thoroughbred horse racing and wholecard simulcasting during two consecutive meets. The track is home of the Summit of Speed, Juvenile Showcase, Festival of the Sun, Florida Million and Grand Slam series of events. A wholly owned property of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), Calder also operates the Tropical at Calder Meet. Information about Calder Race Course can be found on the Internet at


Total on-track attendance (does not include simulcast-only days or evening attendance)

2006-07: 230,555 (60 days)             avg. 3,843             Avg. +/- %

2005-06: 226,709 (55 days)             avg. 4,122             -6.77

Total on-track handle (Calder program only, no full card simulcasting)

2006-07: $21.73 million (60 days)     avg. $362,211         Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $22.05 million (55 days)     avg. $400,886         -9.65

Total ITW + ISW handle (Calder program only, no full card simulcasting)

2006-07: $198.24 million (60 days)    avg. $3.30 million     Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $196.37 million (55 days)    avg. $3.57 million     -7.56

Total combined handle (On-track + ITW + ISW, no full card simulcasting)

2006-07: $219.97 million (60 days)     avg. $3.67 million     Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $218.44 million (55 days)     avg. $3.97 million     -7.56

Total full card simulcasting handle (on-track + ITW) (does not include simulcast-only days)

2006-07: $89.66 million (60 days)        avg. $1.49 million     Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $76.82 million (55 days)        avg. $1.40 million     6.43

Total full card simulcasting handle (on-track + ITW) on simulcast-only days*

2006-07: $17.81 million (18 days)         avg. $989,478         Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $26.53 million (22 days)         avg. $1.21 million    -17.96

Total on-track attendance on simulcast-only days

2006-07: 13,999 (18 days)                    avg. 778                 Avg. +/- %

2005-06: 17,782 (22 days)                    avg. 808                 -3.71

GRAND TOTALS (all sources, all days)

2006-07: $327.45 million (78 days)        avg. $4.20 million     Avg. +/- %

2005-06: $321.79 million (77 days)        avg. $4.18 million     0.48

* Note: Due to Hurricane Wilma and its aftermath in 2005, Calder lost five “live” racing days, and wagering on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships was conducted at Calder on a “dark” day, thus inflating the total simulcast-only full-card simulcasting handle in 2005.