Gulfstream Park Invests Heavily In The Winter Meet

Vintage Gulfstream Park

Florida’s Gulfstream Park seems poised to have its most competitive and lucrative meet ever. Thoroughbred racing may be witnessing a comeback, as we have seen large crowds and high wagering around the country in 2012. To take advantage of what seems to be a trend, Gulfstream will be holding 61 stakes races, with 33 of those being graded, which will be valued at over $10 million.

There have been plenty of indicators that horse racing is bringing back the fans and their money. Some of it could be economy related, as admission fees to the tracks are minimal and $2 bets are value based entertainment. Couple that with a higher level of promotion, such as the Churchill Downs night races, diversifying entertainment options, encouraging family outings, and special concession deals, and it is easy to see that racing is making a concerted effort to be top notch family entertainment. It hasn’t hurt that some tracks are moving towards slot machine gambling being available, which will certainly attract those who like options on how to play their entertainment dollar. It’s still important that a race track be able to maintain a high level of racing by attracting the top horses, and Gulfstream Park is certainly letting it be known that it’s going to hold a high quality meet, that will focus heavily on three-year-olds who may be destined for Triple Crown racing.

The most important race of the meet, which opens on December 1st and runs through the first week of April, will be the Florida Derby. Over the years, the list of winners for the race has been impressive. This list includes such memorable horses as Alydar, Swale, Barbaro, and Big Brown. The total purse for the race is $1 million and that will ensure that this race will continue to attract some of the best Kentucky Derby contenders in the country. Two other races that are part of the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” schedule include the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes and the $400,000 Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes. In addition to beefing up potential earnings at the winter meet, Gulfstream Park will also play host to this year’s Eclipse Awards, where the champions of 2012 will be honored.

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