Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park is a racetrack and county-approved casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida. During its annual meet, spanning December through October, it’s among the most important venues for horse racing in the United States.

Gulfstream Park
Official Gulfstream Park Logo.jpg
LocationHallandale Beach, Florida
Owned byThe Stronach Group
Date opened1939/1944
Course typeFlat
Notable racesSunshine Millions Day
Florida Derby (G1)
Pegasus World Cup (G1)
Official website

Track attributesEdit

The current dirt course is one and one-eighth miles in circumference, with a one-mile backstretch chute. The turf course is one mile in circumference; depending on the race day, the portable rail can be moved to the inside or outside of the course, thereby changing the circumference. The track can seat 16,627 people. The track originally had a one-mile dirt oval and a seven-furlong turf oval prior to a 2005 renovation.

 
Inside the venue, ca. 1930-1945

Buildings and groundsEdit

 
Historic Aerial Photograph of Gulfstream Park in 1940

Gulfstream Park opened on February 1, 1939, conducting a four-day meeting.[1] Its initial meeting attracted a crowd of 18,000. In 1944, the track was reopened by James Donn, Sr. for a 20-day meeting in December.[1]

In 1952, a clubhouse was erected and an addition was put on the grandstand. Gulfstream Park introduced turf racing in 1959. The clubhouse was enlarged in 1961 and the then-world's largest totalizator board was installed in the infield. In 1972, the track was awarded "middle dates" for a 40-day January through April meet. In 1982, the grandstand was again renovated and in 1984 a clubhouse renovation was completed. In 1986, the track added its Gulfdome, a domed dining terrace.

Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's state-of-the-art training facility in Palm Beach County, was opened on Nov. 29, 2002.

In 2004, Gulfstream Park began a $130 million renovation of the grandstand and clubhouse. Slot machines also were approved for the track. The renovation, first effective for the 2006 spring meeting, was criticized by racegoers and commentators, who felt that the new racino laid too much emphasis on the casino area, to the detriment of the racetrack's atmosphere.[2]

In September 2013 the park announced another expansion, with construction begun in March 2014. A highlight would be a 110-ft, fire-breathing bronze statue of Pegasus killing a dragon, at the time the world's largest equine and European dragon statues. Pegasus would also be the second largest statue in the US after the Statue of Liberty).[3] The statues were completed that year in December. The site also includes rock features, fountains and a stage.

TimelineEdit

The Gulfstream Park Handicap was first run in 1946. The year 1952 saw the first running of the Florida Derby, the state's first stakes with a $100,000 purse. The 1955 Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Swaps set a then world-record of 1:39 3/5 for a mile and 70 yards while carrying 130 pounds in the Broward Handicap. Gen. Duke equaled the world record of 1:46 4/5 in defeating Bold Ruler in the Florida Derby in 1956. In 1980, Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, Jr. set a meeting record with 60 wins.

In 1989, Gulfstream Park hosted its first Breeders Cup World Championships, highlighted by the Classic match-up between Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence and Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer.[4] Gulfstream would host the Breeders' Cup again in 1992.

Jockey Julie Krone took the Jockey's Title in 1993 with 98 wins. In 1994, Holy Bull won the Florida Derby while, in 1995, Cigar won the Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Handicap on his way to a perfect season. Meanwhile, in 1995, Florida Derby winner Thunder Gulch would go on to win the Kentucky Derby (Monarchos would repeat Thunder Gulch's feat in 2001). Gulfstream again would host the Breeders' Cup in 1999.

Hal's Hope, winner of the 2000 Florida Derby, would return in 2002 to win the Gulfstream Park Handicap. The 2002 season introduced the first running of the popular Sunshine Millions, pitting Florida-breds against California-breds for purses totaling $3.6 million. In 2004, trainer Todd Pletcher started an unprecedented run of nine consecutive training titles. In 2006, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey rode his last race aboard Silver Tree in the Sunshine Millions, and the great Barbaro would win the Florida Derby before making headlines with his victory in the Kentucky Derby.

In April, 2012, Javier Castellano, who collected his first Gulfstream title by riding a record 112 wins, scored his 3,000th career success aboard Virtuously on Feb. 24 and Todd Pletcher, who claimed an unprecedented ninth consecutive training title at Gulfstream with 72 trips to the winner's circle, recorded his 3,000 career victory when he saddled Spring Hill Farm for a winning performance on Feb. 11.[5]

As of March 2021, Gulfstream Park has hosted all of the races in the series known as the Sunshine Millions, consisting of Sunshine Millions Classic, Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes, Sunshine Millions Distaff, Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, and the Sunshine Millions Sprint.[citation needed]

 
Sunshine Millions Day, 2006

Track ownership and managementEdit

In 1961, James Donn Jr. succeeded his father as president of Gulfstream Park. In 1990, the track was purchased by Bertram R. Firestone. In 1994, a half interest in the track was sold to Nigashi Nihon.[citation needed] In 1999, Gulfstream Park was purchased by Magna Entertainment Corporation, for $95 million.[6] In 2010, the ownership of the track was taken over by Magna parent MI Developments Inc. (MID). Since July 3, 2011, the track has been owned by The Stronach Group.

In June, 2011, Tim Ritvo was named President and General Manager of Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. He was a prominent jockey and racing official at Suffolk Downs in the 1980s before establishing himself in the 1990s as a leading Florida trainer. Ritvo also had served as Vice President and Director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association.[7] In 2012, Stronach Group named Ritvo Chief Operating Officer of its Racing Division. [8]

On March 2, 2020 Ritvo stepped down as COO of Stronach Group-operated tracks, which include the troubled Santa Anita racetrack in California. He left to “pursue other opportunities.”[9]

Stakes RacesEdit

Gulfstream Park is home to the following graded stakes: (listed by grade and then year inaugurated)
Grade I:

Grade II:

Grade III: (listed by grade and then year inaugurated)

Non-graded: (partial list, listed Alphabetically)

(FTBOA) Florida Sire stakes:

On Opening Day, December 1, 2012, of Gulfstream Park's 2012-2013 meet, the track is hosting the 14th running of racing's Claiming Crown.[10] The Claiming Crown has become the most important event for horse racing's claiming runners, and Gulfstream Park is raising the purses for each individual race in honor of this.

EntertainmentEdit

 
Tiffany, a former teen pop star from the '80s, performed at Gulfstream Park in 2003.

Gulfstream Park in recent years has been a concert venue, with performances taking place on the grounds outside the grandstand. Reserved seats to the concerts are sold in advance, and others paying normal track admission may watch the concert in standing room. Various singers and groups popular in earlier times perform at Gulfstream Park on their tours. The track was also host to the Miami Pop Festival from December 28–30, 1968, featuring over thirty performing bands and artists, including the Grateful Dead.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Ghost, Colin (January 3, 2009). "Gulfstream Park Opens, 1944". colinsghost.org. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Andrew, Beyer (2006-01-17). "Construction of New Gulfstream Park Points to Destruction". Washington Post.
  3. ^ "Pegasus Park". Archived from the original on 2015-01-20.
  4. ^ "Gulfstream Park Race Track Information". HorseRacing.net. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  5. ^ "Gulfstream Meeting Took Off Running and Kept Going". 2012-04-08. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  6. ^ Durso, Joseph (1999-07-07). "HORSE RACING; Gulfstream Park Has Sale Agreement". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  7. ^ "Ritvo Named Gulfstream Park President and General Manager". 2011-07-25. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  8. ^ "Stronach Group Names Rogers President, Ritvo COO of Racing Division". 2012-06-08. Archived from the original on 2015-01-29.
  9. ^ "Group that owns Santa Anita dismisses its COO". ESPN.com. 2020-03-03. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  10. ^ "Claiming Crown Moves to Gulfstream". BloodHorse.com. 2012-03-13.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 25°58′43″N 80°08′17″W / 25.978474°N 80.13799°W / 25.978474; -80.13799