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Racing truce ends: Gulfstream wages war on Calder for summer events

Marty Wolfson has spent the past 35 years training thoroughbreds at Calder Race Course and remained dedicated to South Florida’s traditional “summer” race track.

Come Sunday, that will all change.

Wolfson will put his stable of horses on a van and ship them a few miles east to Gulfstream Park. For good.

In a brewing, head-to-head battle between Calder and Gulfstream for horses and bettors, Wolfson is switching sides.

“I hope Gulfstream squashes Calder,” Wolfson said.

Minutes later, the veteran trainer’s horse — Heiko — won the fifth race on the first day of Gulfstream’s summer meet. Monday marked the first time horses kicked up dirt in July at a track that’s been a Hallandale Beach fixture since 1939.

For decades, Calder had the summer and fall all to itself on the year-round racing calendar in South Florida. Gulfstream and, at one time, Hialeah divvied up the lucrative winter dates, when northern tourists arrive and feed dollars through the pari-mutuel windows.

Now, Gulfstream has decided it wants the summer dates, too, and has scheduled a racing meet that runs in direct competition — at least on Saturdays and Sundays — against Calder.

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