Gulfstream Park has announced a record $10.75 million stakes program for its 2013-14 Champion’s Meet, highlighted by the 63rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
The lucrative 61 stakes races (34 graded) will include purse increases for 10 existing stakes. There will also be nine stakes races for three-year-olds beginning January 1 with the Gulfstream Park Derby and culminating with the Florida Derby.
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, won last year by eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb, has produced 22 Kentucky Derby winners, 19 Preakness victors and 16 Belmont winners. The Florida Derby will be supported on Florida’s biggest day of Thoroughbred racing by seven other stakes races, including the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks for three-year-old fillies; the Grade 2, $200,000 Pan American on the turf for older horses; the Grade 3, $150,000 Rampart for fillies and mares; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Skip Away for older horses.
Gulfstream’s two other Grade 1 attractions, the $500,000 Donn Handicap for older horses at 1 1/8 miles and the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, will be co-featured on the February 8 program.
The Champion’s Meet at Gulfstream will kick off November 30 with two, one-mile turf stakes for juveniles: the $100,000 Pulpit and the $100,000 Wait a While for fillies. The Champion’s Meet will also serve to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Gulfstream Park. There will be events throughout the meet including a celebration on February 1, the day Gulfstream first opened for Thoroughbred racing in 1939.
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Gulfstream Park 2013 – 2014 Championship Meet
Racing Dates: November 30, 2013 through April 6, 2014
Racing Schedule: Gulfstream will begin with a Friday through Sunday racing schedule. It will add Thursdays beginning Dec. 19, and will begin a Wednesday through Sunday schedule Jan. 1.
Post Times: First post time will be 12:40 p.m. ET each day
Gulfstream Park 2013-2014 Race Track Information
Main track (dirt): 1 1/8 mile oval
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 898 feet
Composition: 85.5% sand, 14.5% clay
Width of stretch: 90 feet
Turf: 1 mile, inside turf track
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 990 feet
Composition: Sandy loam, 75% sand, 25% clay, and Celebration Bermuda grass is grown directly into the base.
Major stakes days
- Jan. 18 — Sunshine Millions with the $500,000 Classic and five other stakes for Florida-breds;
- Jan. 25 — $400,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) for 3-year-olds;
- Feb. 8 — $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT), and two other graded stakes;
- Feb. 22 — $400,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) for 3-year-olds;
- March 29 — $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I), $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II), and five other graded stakes.
More Gulfstream Park 2013-2014 Winter Meet Notes
“We are very excited about our Champion’s Meet this coming winter,” Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo said. “Our record stakes schedule once again shows our commitment to Thoroughbred racing as well as horsemen throughout North America. Our great fans continue to see champions developed every day at Gulfstream Park. More than a third of our Florida Derby winners have now gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.
“Our schedule this winter will provide horsemen and fans with world-class racing while we continue showcasing our stunning facility during the Eclipse Awards, Florida Sunshine Millions, Florida Derby and throughout our 75th anniversary.”
Gulfstream’s strong schedule of three-year-old stakes for owners and trainers of Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby hopefuls will start New Year’s Day with the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at a mile. The Gulfstream Derby will be followed by the Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles on January 25 and the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles on February 22. A trio of sprints — the $100,000 Spectacular Bid at six furlongs on January 4, the Grade 2, $200,000 Hutcheson at seven furlongs on February 1 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Swale at seven furlongs on March 1 — will provide even more options for leading three-year-olds.
Gulfstream will also offer two turf stakes for three-year-olds in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy at 1 1/16 miles January 19 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Palm Beach at 1 1/8 miles March 1.
While the three-year-old colts are traditionally the main focus during the winter at Gulfstream, the 2013-14 stakes schedule covers every Thoroughbred division on both the main track and turf course.
The 15th edition of the Claiming Crown, staged at Gulfstream for the first time with unprecedented success last season, will return to the Hallandale Beach, Florida, track on December 7. The eight-race Claiming Crown, designed to recognize and celebrate the sport’s most enduring and competitive claiming horses, will be contested for a total of $1 million, including the addition of a race and a $150,000 purse increase from last season.
The 12th edition of the Florida Sunshine Millions will be run on January 18 with horses bred in Florida contesting six stakes worth a total of $1.3 million. The $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles for older horses will be showcased on a program that will include the $300,000 Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, the $150,000 Sprint for older horses and the $150,000 Filly & Mare Sprint, both at six furlongs, as well as the $150,000 Turf for older horses and the $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf, both at 1 1/8 miles over the grass course.
The Florida Sunshine Millions will serve as a precursor to the evening’s 43rd annual Eclipse Awards, to be held for the second consecutive year in Gulfstream’s Sport of Kings Theater.
The three-year old fillies will have several opportunities in graded stakes in preparation for the Gulfstream Park Oaks and Kentucky Oaks, including the Grade 3, $100,000 Old Hat at six furlongs on January 4, the Grade 2, $200,000 Forward Gal at seven furlongs on January 25 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale at 1 1/16 miles on February 22.
The 56th running of the Donn Handicap on February 8 highlights a stakes program for older horses that includes the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday at 1 1/16 miles on December 22, the Grade 3, $100,000 Hal’s Hope at a mile on January 11 and the Grade 2, $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap at a mile on March 8, as well as the Skip Away at 1 3/16 miles. Older sprinters will be pointed to the Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector at six furlongs on December 28, the Grade 3, $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint at seven furlongs on February 8 and the $100,000 Sir Shackleton at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Older fillies and mares will be eligible for the Grade 3, $100,000 Sugar Swirl at six furlongs on December 14, the Grade 3, $150,000 Hurricane Bertie at 6 1/2 furlongs on February 9, the Grade 3, $100,000 Sabin at 1 1/16 miles on February 16, the Grade 2, $200,000 Inside Information at seven furlongs on March 22, as well as the Rampart at 1 1/8 miles.
Fan-favorite turf racing will be featured throughout the meeting, topped by the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 8. Supporting the Grade 1 turf fixture will be the 57th running of the Fort Lauderdale for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on January 11. The Fort Lauderdale, upgraded to a Grade 2 last season, received a $50,000 purse increase to $200,000. The $100,000 Dania Beach for two-year-olds at a mile on turf was granted a Grade 3 status for the first time for its sixth running on December 21.
The deep turf slate also includes the Grade 2, $200,000 Mac Diarmida at 1 3/8 miles on February 15, the Grade 3, $100,000 Appleton at a mile on March 29, as well as the Pan American at 1 1/2 miles. Important stakes for fillies and mares on turf include the Grade 3, $100,000 Marshua’s River at 1 1/16 miles on January 4, the Grade 3, $150,000 Suwannee River at 1 1/8 miles on February 8, the Grade 3, $100,000 The Very One at 1 3/8 miles on February 15, the Grade 2, $150,000 Honey Fox at one mile on March 15 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Orchid at 1 1/2 miles on March 29.
Gulfstream Park Racetrack Facts:
Gulfstream Park first opened on Feb. 1, 1939, hosting a four-day meet that attracted a crowd of more than 18,000 people who wagered $220,000. John C. Horning, a building contractor, was the chief stockholder. In December 1944, the track was re-opened by James Donn for a 20-day meet with an average crowd of 4,500. The average handle in wagering was $281,000. This success brought the Gulfstream Handicap to the track in 1946 and the Florida Derby in 1952, as well as the building of a clubhouse and the expansion of grandstand seating. In 1961, James Donn was succeeded by his son, James Donn Jr., who became president of Gulfstream Park Racetrack. This change also brought an enlarged grandstand and the installation of the world’s largest totalisator board in the infield. In ensuing years, a new media box was built, the paddock was enlarged and completely renovated, the stable capacity expanded, and a new odds board unveiled. By 1981, Gulfstream was the first Florida track to break the $100-million wagering mark with a state record of $103,531,722 for the 50-day winter season. The para-mutuel record wagering was also set in this season, reaching $4,090,109. In 1982, a multimillion-dollar facility improvement began and would last for the rest of the decade. In the ’90s, milestones continued at Gulfstream as the Donn Handicap played host to Cigar, one of the all-time greatest race horses. Gulfstream Park broke records in wagering handle, in excess of $825.3 million during its 89-day season in 2003. Gulfstream Park Racetrack commenced a $130-million renovation that brings modernization to the clubhouse and grandstand, and the installation of slot machines. The elaborate renovation also adds a 1 1/8-mile dirt oval and 1-mile turf oval.