Gulfstream Park West kicked off its inaugural Fall Turf Festival Wednesday afternoon with full fields, sunny skies, a revitalized turf course and horsemen and fans welcoming the first race day of the 44-day meet.
The first race at the newly christened Gulfstream Park West went to Mr. Exclusive, trained by Jason DaCosta and ridden by Orlando Bocachica. The 5-year-old gelding won by three lengths over Touchdown Tom while covering a firm 7 ½-furlong turf course in 1:31.88.
“That was great,” said Bocachica after the race. “I really wanted to win the race bad since it was the first of the meet and the first at Gulfstream Park West.
“It’s nice to win the first race of any meet,” DaCosta said. “I’ve always loved this track.”
Gulfstream Park West, located eight miles west of Gulfstream Park at Calder Race Course, is being operated by the management of Gulfstream Park. More than $2.5 million has been invested in the boutique meet. Gulfstream is leasing the racing facility as part of a six-year agreement with Churchill Downs. Gulfstream has rebranded the racing facility, refurbished the dormant turf course and did extensive renovations to 15 barns.
“I’m very happy,” said trainer Ralph Ziadie, who saddled his first horse at Calder in 1977. “The one thing about (The Stronach Group Chairman) Mr. (Frank) Stronach and (Gulfstream President) Timmy Ritvo is they care about racing and doing anything they can to help it. The facility is clean and this is one of the safest racetracks in the country.”
“Everything has been done right; the track is good, the organization working here is good, and the facility looks good,” said trainer Antonio Sano.
“I think this is a great idea,” said trainer Marcus Vitali of the 44-day meet at Gulfstream Park West. “The other place (Gulfstream Park) deserves a little break. I think (Gulfstream President) Tim (Ritvo), The Stronach Group and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have all done a good job organizing this meet. It’s gone very smoothly.”
Racing resumes Thursday. Gulfstream Park remains opens for simulcasting.
Source: Gulfstream Park West