Calder Race Course
|Location||Miami Gardens, Florida|
|Owned by||Churchill Downs Inc.
Racing operations leased to Stronach Group
|Date opened||May 6, 1971|
In the mid-1960s, real estate developer Stephen A. Calder envisioned summertime racing in Florida; in 1965, on the advice of Mr. Calder, the Florida Legislature approved a bill allowing for it. Prior to this time, a fall meet was held at Tropical Park Race Track in Miami and winter / spring meets at Hialeah Park and Gulfstream Park in Broward County. In 1970, Stephen Calder received a permit for summertime racing but the meet was run at Tropical Park because construction was not complete at Calder. On May 6, 1971 Calder Race Course held its first day of racing. When William L. McKnight became the new owner of Tropical Park, he stated his intentions of closing the track and switching the dates to the Calder track, of which he was one of the principal investors. Racing ceased at Tropical Park in 1972.
The 1980s brought about renovations and expansions and two purchases. The first purchase was by Bertram R. Firestone and the second was by Kawasaki Leasings, Inc. In 1992 the "Festival of the Sun" was introduced. By 1997, simulcasting was introduced (so bets could be placed on Calder races from other tracks and off-track locations). The handle increased significantly; the track increased purses. In January 1999, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) purchased Calder Race Course for approximately $86 million. In the first years of the new century the track introduced the "Florida Million" and the "Summit of Speed".
Calder's Summit of Speed has produced several Breeders' Cup champions and Eclipse Award winners since its start in 2000. (The Eclipse award is the highest honor bestowed in American racing). In its short history, the Summit of Speed attracted some of the country's top sprinters, including Cajun Beat and Orientate who both went on to win Breeders' Cup Sprint championship races (Orientate 2002, Cajun Beat 2003). In 2005, Lost in the Fog won at Calder, although was later defeated in the Breeders' Cup. The Summit of Speed turned out to be the single biggest day in the history of Calder. In 2004, over $10.8 million was wagered on the event.
In 2003, the unincorporated area where Calder is located became the City of Miami Gardens, the third largest city in Miami-Dade county.
On June 4, 2005, jockey Eddie Castro set the North American record for the most wins in a day at one track, winning 9 races at Calder.
The world record for the most spent on a Thoroughbred at sale took place at Calder in 2006 when a two-year-old horse sold for $16 million. The horse was later named The Green Monkey.
In late-2009, Calder changed its official name to Calder Casino & Race Course. The grand opening of the Calder Casino was celebrated in January 2010.
On August 24, 2013, jockey Antonio A. Gallardo set the record for the most stakes wins in a day and in a row, winning 4 consecutive stake races in the Juvenile Showcase.
After head-to-head racing between Calder and nearby Gulfstream Park in 2013 and 2014, CDI and the Stronach Group announced an agreement where the Stronach Group would assume control of Calder's racing operations, and CDI would operate the Calder Casino. After the agreement, Gulfstream announced it would operate a two-month meet at Calder in the fall under the name Gulfstream Park West. Under the changes, the track's code for official racing programs was changed from CRC to GPW.
In April 2015, CDI demolished approximately 1,400 stalls in an area marked for non-racing commercial re-development. In July 2015, Gulfstream Park was informed that the Calder grandstand - owned by CDI - will not be open to the public for the 2015 Gulfstream Park West meet except for racing officials, and that the seven-story structure will be demolished once the meet has concluded. Demolition was completed in October 2016 and The Stronach Group recommended everyone watch and wager at Gulfstream Park.
The length of the main track is one-mile (1.6 km) with 1/4 and 7/8 chutes. Surface is 12" sand and marl (clay) base with 4.5" of sand and marl cushion. The turf course is 7/8 mile with 1/4 mile chute. The surface is Tifton #419 Bermuda grass. The stable area has stalls for 1,850 thoroughbreds plus receiving barn, neighboring training center (not owned by Calder), feed rooms, tack rooms, detention barns, and living quarters. In addition it has a seating capacity for more than 12,000 people. The size of the parcel is 220 acres (0.89 km2).
- Ron Nicolleti (1989–2008, 2014–present)
- Caton Bredar (1992–1994)
- Todd Schrupp (1991–1998)
- Bobby Neuman (1999–2014)
- Meredith Gleaves (2008–2010)
- Anthony Schweiker (2010–2011)
- Pete Aiello (2014–2015)
- Chris Griffin (2016–present)
- Acacia Courtney (2016–present)
Gulfstream Park West's jockey colony is reflective of the diversity of Miami. With the Gulfstream West oval serving as a launching pad for jockeys coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, many jockeys have gained valuable riding experience before success at other racetracks across the country. Top jockeys who started their careers at Calder include Javier and Abel Castellano (Venezuela), Eibar Coa (Venezuela), Rene Douglas (Panama), Shaun Bridgmohan (Jamaica), Edgar Prado (Peru), Pedro Rodriguez (Cuba), Alex Solis (Panama), José Ferrer (Puerto Rico), Jorge Chavez (Peru), Jose Santos (Chile), Cornelio Velasquez (Panama), Manoel Cruz (Brazil), Jacinto Vasquez (Panama-retired) and Eddie Castro (Panama) among others. In addition, Stewart Elliott of Smarty Jones fame and Gary Boulanger (retired) are a few Canadians who led the ranks at Calder early in their careers.
Winners of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey that hailed from Gulfstream West when they won – Rosemary Homeister (1992), Phil Teator (1997), Shaun Bridgemohan (1998) and Eddie Castro (2003). Jockeys whose careers started at Calder and went on to Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey: Jerry Bailey (2000–2003; 1995–1997), Jorge Chavez (1999), Mike E. Smith (1993), Jose Santos (1988).
- At Calder, I had a jockey named Nick Navarro who worked for me. He was one of the good guys. He wouldn't hold horses or charge them or run them on dope. He was very skilled, and when I ran my horses clean, I used Nick.
- One day in 1977 [sic] he ran a race for me at Calder. I walked up to him after he finished. He put his hand up to wave, and there was a powerful explosion. A bolt of lightning came out of the sky and hit him.
Calder Race Course Hall of Fame
The Calder Hall of Fame was created in 1995 to honor those who have made history at Calder Race Course.
- Princess Rooney (1995)
- Spend A Buck (1995)
- Gene St. Leon (1995)
- Fred W. Hooper (1995)
- Jose Velez, Jr. (1997)
- Cherokee Run (1998)
- John J. Tammaro, Jr. (1999)
- Jacinto Vasquez (1999)
- Miguel A. Rivera (2000)
- Mike Gonzalez(2001)
- Alex Solis (2002)
- Ocala Stud Farm (2002)
- John A. Franks (2003)
- Mary Russ (2003)
- Martin D. Wolfson (2003)
- Eibar Coa (2004)
- Rosemary Homeister, Jr. (2006)
- Frank Gomez (1995)
- Edward Plesa, Jr. (2007)
- "Renovations Noted at 'Gulfstream Park West'". bloodhorse.com. The BloodHorse. September 30, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
- Freer, Jim (July 27, 2015). "CDI Plans to Demolish Calder Grandstand". bloodhorse.com. The BloodHorse. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- Jon Roberts and Evan Wright (November 1, 2011). American Desperado. Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-45042-5.
- "Jockey Killed by Lightning". St. Petersburg Times. December 29, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
- Post Wire Services (December 29, 1978). "Jockey Killed by Lightning". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 15, 2012.