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Gulfstream Park Meet Gets Underway Saturday

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC
Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino begins its historic 2011-2012 race meet Saturday, December 3 with the finest racing in the country highlighted by Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys, the top Triple Crown contenders, the best older horses, and numerous improvements to enhance the fans’ experience.

Opening for the first time in December in its 69-year history, Gulfstream’s opening day will include the 30th running of the $100,000 Spectacular Bid. The six furlong event, for 2-year-old colts, will be one of 10 races carded on the afternoon, including four on the turf.


First race post time is 12:35 p.m. Parking and admission is always free. Saturday’s opening day festivities kick off with the return of Breakfast at Gulfstream from 7-10 a.m.  Silks opens at 11 a.m. Doors to Ralph Pagano’s Ten Palms American Kitchen and Stone Crab Parlor will open at 11 a.m.


Gulfstream’s championship season will include 53 stakes races - 33 graded – worth more than $9 million. Total purses for the meet will be in excess of $30 million. Just some of the key dates of Gulfstream’s 87-day meet will include:


• March 31: The $1 million Florida Derby (G1), which has produced the winner of 55 Triple Crown events, will be one of seven stakes races (six graded) worth nearly $1.9 million. Other races include the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies, the $100,000 Skip Away (G3) for older horses on the dirt, the $150,000 Rampart (G3) for older fillies on the dirt, and the $150,000 Orchid (G3) and $100,000 Appleton, both contested on the turf.

• Jan. 1: The inaugural running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby, the first derby in the country for 3-year-old colts.

• Jan. 28: The Florida Sunshine Millions will be run in its entirety at Gulfstream. Six races for Florida-breds will be worth $1.45 million

• Jan. 29: The $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) attracts some of the most promising 3-year-olds in the country while the top 3-year-old fillies contest the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2).

• Feb. 11: The afternoon is chock full of four graded-stakes races, including two Grade I events: The $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) for older horses on the dirt, the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) for older horses on the turf, the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds and the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) for fillies and mares on the turf.

• Feb. 26: The $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), the last major prep for the Florida Derby, will be one of five graded-stakes races over the weekend, including the $250,000 Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies on Feb. 25.


Gulfstream’s off-season was not only spent crafting an expanded stakes schedule but on making capital improvements to enhance the fans’ experience. Some of those improvements include:


• Installing six enhanced, higher resolution Daktronics LED displays
• Construction of a new picnic area down the stretch
• Additional, covered seating
• Installation of Trakus wireless technology to monitor horses during the race
• New concession and Ten Palms menus from executive chef Ralph Pagano


“Obviously, our management and staff are eager and excited to start our 2011-2012 meet Saturday,” said Gulfstream President and General Manager Timothy Ritvo. “Our Chairman, Mr. Frank Stronach, continues to invest in thoroughbred racing while improving the fans’ experience by constantly upgrading the facility, which is only five years old.


“Between Gulfstream and our satellite training facility Palm Meadows, which has produced five of the last six Kentucky Derby winners, we’re confident that we will have the finest racing in the country each and every day. On any given day, fans could be watching the next Florida Derby winner or one of several Triple Crown contenders. And, as always, Gulfstream will also have the finest turf and older horses anywhere in the world.


Gulfstream’s wagering menu will include the return of the 10-cent Rainbow 6 and the introduction of the Super Hi 5, a $1 wager which will be offered on the final race of the program. Bettors will be asked to select the first five finishers. If no one selects the first five finishers in the correct order, 75 percent of the wagering pool will be carried over.


The Super Hi 5 and the 50-cent Pick 5 (on the day’s last five races) will each have a low 15 percent takeout. Gulfstream has also lowered the minimum wager on its trifectas to 50 cents.


The popular 10-cent Rainbow 6, which produced a record total pool last April of $5.018 million, will return and will be contested over the last six races.


Gulfstream will kick off its season with a number of events beginning at 7 a.m. with the return of Breakfast at Gulfstream. Fans will not only be able to watch horses train across Gulfstream’s racetrack but also meet trainers, jockeys, track announcer Larry Collmus, and track handicappers before taking a tour of the barn area. Admission is free. The popular breakfast buffet remains $8.


Beginning at 11 a.m., Gulfstream will hold its first handicapping seminar of the season in the Sport of Kings with Steven Crist, editor and publisher of the Daily Racing Form.


Opening day will also provide fans an entirely new menu from the concession stands to Ten Palms American Kitchen and Stone Crab Parlor. Chef Ralph Pagano, known for his television appearances on Iron Chef America, Hell’s Kitchen and Pressure Cook, has turned Gulfstream into an adventurous culinary experience with a new menu at Ten Palms and new concession stands including Mangia (featuring pizza and 15 different sandwiches), Chicken Run, Stacks Deli and Stretch’s BBQ & Tiki.

 

 

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