In the remote southeast corner of Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino -- as far away from the mall and the casino as you can get -- fewer than 20 people watched three horses race for about five seconds Monday morning.
And that race could eventually result in another casino coming to Miami-Dade County.That's because this corner of Gulfstream's property juts into Miami-Dade County. And by holding a race that begins and ends in Miami-Dade -- even if it's just one race, 150 yards with three horses -- Gulfstream keeps active a racing permit that they can use to argue for the right to build a slot parlor in Miami-Dade County.
Now, there's still some lawyering and legislating to do, but Gulfstream officials confirmed they could attempt to set up a casino on their own, sell the permit to some other casino group or simply wait to see what shakes out in the Florida Legislature. Two years ago, destination casino companies asked for the state to expand gambling, but the bill died in committee. We still have the wild west out there; my take is this is Gulfstream's way of covering every base.
Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo was in Hong Kong on business Monday and could not be reached. Gulfstream's lawyer is Marc Dunbar, who helped bring barrel racing to Gretna, which in turn brought a poker room, also couldn't be reached. He is on vacation.
Gulfstream employees smiled and shook their heads as they tried to treat this race like any other. Employees set up a metal scaffold on Friday and on Monday morning, workers came to set up cameras that recorded the race, as per state requirements. Someone had to bring a generator to provide the power for the cameras. (I took a photo of the setup.)
Morality, the favorite, broke from the gate and Edgard Zayas cruised home with the victory, over Sayyourpraysnow and Grave.
The race came before a historic day in South Florida racing, with Gulfstream debuting summer racing -- and competing against Calder Casino and Race Course. The permit is under the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Program license. That's a non-profit organization with the horsemen holding a contract to share in all revenues. Gulfstream previously held it as a quarter horse license, but converted it to a thoroughbred license.
As those English teachers say when they hand out essay questions: Discuss.