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HRN Original Blog:
Pedigree Power

Gulfstream Park: Hot Racing in July

Gulfstream Park 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
 
For the first time in the track's 74 year history, Gulfstream Park will open the gates on summertime horse racing. Traditionally, since 1971, Calder Race Course was the only game in town from May – November. In July, things will be shaken up as the two South Florida giants gear up for a turf war when Gulfstream goes head to head with Calder.

It isn't the first time that Gulfstream has competed with another track during simultaneous racing dates. In fact, the track's opening held in 1939 was awarded after an appeal to the Supreme Court. The fledgling Gulfstream raced against the well established and hugely popular Hialeah Racetrack and closed after only four days. Fast forward to 1972, when a bigger, stronger Gulfstream was awarded the prime races dates over Hialeah starting the decline of the fading Hialeah. The last time two South Florida Tracks raced concurrently was in 1989, when Calder put Hialeah out of business for two years.

It's been business as usual in South Florida racing over the last twenty years. Gulfstream holds the winter dates while Calder races the bulk of the summer-fall season. Until now.

In 1999 both tracks were purchased, but their stories couldn't be more dis-similar.

In 1999, Gulfstream was purchased by Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment Company. Mr. Stronach took a gamble with a vision of a new style of racetrack, incorporating restaurants, nightclubs, a casino and high-end shops, to draw not only fans, but the general public as well. The entire facility, including the track and backstretch, were demolished and reconstructed in 2006. With the new hands-on management team in place, Gulfstream has become very hospitable to both horsemen and fans. The entire facility is kept spotless and the backstretch worker's accommodations could be mistaken for a hotel. To prepare for the new summer racing, the track's main drainage system was overhauled to the tune of over $1 million dollars and an extra 500 stalls will be built. The track surface received positive reviews from trainers on the day after a characteristic summer deluge, which dumped 14 inches of rain one day in early June.

On the other side of town, Churchill Downs Incorporated purchased Calder Race Course. They immediately opened a poker room and then a casino in 2010. Racegoers and horsemen, the whole reason for having a racetrack in the first place, have been largely ignored. Sure, the track itself is still well maintained and has been the starting point for many good two year olds who've gone on to national recognition. However, Calder's backstretch and grandstand area remain pretty much the same as they have since the 1970's and have become run down and seedy.

Deja vu all over again. This time, the bright, shiny new Gulfstream is ready to take on the aging Calder. It won't be easy to start a new race-card against the established Stallion Stakes series and Summit of Speed. Additionally, the tracks are only ten miles apart, roughly a half hour drive in the summer.

The battle for racing fan attendance will begin with Gulfstream's grand opening on Tuesday, June 25, then the track will re-open on July 1 – 28, racing on weekends. The card consists of basic maiden, claiming and allowance races over both dirt and turf, including seven races for juveniles. A $100,000 stakes race will be contested on July 4. Betting features include the Rainbow 6, Pick 5 and Super Hi 5. Other events for horse players are also scheduled.

I'll be reviewing the maiden races for two year olds plus the Armed Forces Stakes race on the Pedigree Power blog. Why? These babies will show up next year, perhaps on the triple crown trail. They'll have the advantage of a race over the track and we might find a diamond in the rough.



 

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Meet Laurie Ross
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   

 

For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   

 

In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.

 

I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
 
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.