Despite the controversy that clouded the lead up to Gulfstream Park’s first ever summer meet, once racing began, life at the opulent South Florida track has been business as usual. The 2013 Summer meet commenced July 1, and live racing has taken place solely on Saturdays and Sundays with the exception of a few special holiday dates.
The creation of a new meet meant the creation of new stakes races, and fans of the track have seen a stakes race nearly every weekend during this meet. Thanks to the running of the traditional, high-profile summer meets at Saratoga and Del Mar, Gulfstream has not, for the most part, attracted the quality of runners that it sees during the winter months, but that is not to say that things have been boring.
So far there have been nine overnight stakes run at Gulfstream and ten different winners. I know it sounds bizarre to say that nine races have been won by 10 horses but keep reading to find out why that is the case. Alley Oop Oop came away the winner in a close finish in the first stake of the meet, the Armed Forces for three-year olds and up going 8.5 furlongs on the turf, on Independence Day. Less than two weeks later, Dreaming of Sophia ran away to a 6 ½ length triumph in the Cellars Shiraz which came off the turf thanks to Tropical Storm Chantal. The very next week Backseat Memories and Grand Tito called it a draw when they hit the wire together in the 8.5 furlong Showing Up Stakes on turf.
In what was the deepest field in terms of class and accomplishments thus far at this meet, Black Diamond Cat (above) won one of the biggest races of his career. Though already a stakes winner, the Wildcat Heir gelding had only once before faced and defeated the caliber of horses that lined up with him in the gate in the seven furlong Housebuster Stakes. At the break, Black Diamond Cat settled just off the leaders and closely tracked a moderate early pace set by Artefacto. Despite having a three-wide trip, the bay gelding was able to take command in midstretch and eased away to a 2 ¼ length victory. Close It Out finished second followed by multiple Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend, Swagger Jack, Artefacto, Apriority, Bellefire, Manicero, and Numb Lips.
Millennia became a stakes winner when she took down the lion’s share of the TaWee’s $100,000 purse. For state bred 3-year old and upward fillies and mares, the TaWee was contested at 8.5 furlongs on the turf. Sent off at odds of 12-1, Millennia was able to count Awesome Belle in amongst her vanquished foes. My Pal Chrisy soundly beat a short field in the 6 furlong Paseana Stakes, and Sr. Quisqueyano made his way back to the winner’s circle thanks to a win in 8.5 furlong Eight Miles East Stakes. Angelica Zapata continued to be successful at the minor stakes level with a win in the 1 1/16 mile Wasted Tears Stake on turf for fillies and mares three-years old and upward. Most recently, Heiko denied Backseat Memories the opportunity to become the only repeat stakes winner of the meet when he wired the Vid Stakes field and held off that rival by three parts of a length.
The stakes action continues this weekend with the $100,000 Montbrook Stakes which will go off as race 7 on Saturday’s card. Eight Miles East winner Sr. Quisqueyano and Housebuster winner Black Diamond Cat will clash in an attempt to become the first to win two stakes at Gulfstream’s summer meet. Lining up in the starting gate with them are Joshua’s Comprise, Majestic Express, Imperial Czar, Grande Shores, Megamove, and Timeless Indy.
Also on the condition book is the $100,000 Musical Romance stakes for fillies and mares 3-years old and upwards going 6 ½ furlongs to be run on September 21. The race is a nod to 2011 Female Sprint Champion Musical Romance who won the G2 Inside Information Stakes at the beginning of her championship season. Keeping with the tradition of running a stakes nearly every Saturday, more stakes are sure to be carded at Gulfstream Park between now and the end of the Summer meet, but as of yet, the races nor the nominations have been announced.