When the starting gates open Saturday for the 138th Kentucky Derby (G1), half of the 20 starters will have raced and/or wintered on Gulfstream Park property, including Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy, Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Union Rags and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champ Hansen.
So there will be no better place to watch and wager on the Derby and Friday’s Kentucky Oaks than Gulfstream Park,
Saturday’s Derby specials at Gulfstream will include $5 Mint Juleps in an official Kentucky Derby glass, a drawing for GP Advantage Card Members for a $300 wager on the Derby, and drawings for official Kentucky Derby merchandise with the purchase of a seat in Silks.
Reservations for Silks can be made at the customer service desk in Silks or by calling 954.457.6201 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reservations for Ten Palms, featuring a $40 Derby buffet, can be made at 954.455.6760.
Gulfstream and the Florida Derby have left an indelible imprint on the Kentucky Derby. Five of the last six Kentucky Derby winners wintered at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility, Palm Meadows, and 21 Florida Derby starters have gone on to win the Run for the Roses.
Among this year’s favorites who raced at Gulfstream and wintered at Palm Meadows is Union Rags. Trained by Michael Matz, the conditioner of 2006 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, Union Rags comes into Saturday’s 1 ¼ mile event off a troubled third-place finish in the Florida Derby. Jockey Julien Leparoux will ride.
Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, trained by Pat Byrne, was expected to leave Palm Meadows Tuesday for Churchill Downs. The colt turned in a five furlong work April 26 across Palm Meadows that Byrne called “magnificent.” Three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will ride.
Gemologist, who started his 3-year-old season March 16 at Gulfstream with a seven-length victory before winning the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct, has trained well at Palm Meadows as has his stablemate and Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner El Padrino. Both colts are trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won Gulfstream’s training title a record nine consecutive years.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen, second in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull (G3) in January, trained across Gulfstream’s main track during the winter as did Blue Grass (G1) winner and Palm Beach (G3) runner-up Dullahan. Spiral (G3) winner Went the Day Well and Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective spent their winter at Palm Meadows. Went the Day Well, trained by last year’s Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion, won his first race at Gulfstream March 3 after making his U.S. debut at the track Feb. 4. Alpha, who finished second in the Wood, also spent part of the winter at Palm Meadows.
Meanwhile, the South Florida-based Trinniberg will go to Kentucky off an impressive victory in Aqueduct’s Bay Shore (G3) after kicking off his 3-year-old season with a big win in Gulfstream’s March 10 Swale Stakes (G3).
Friday’s Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies will be another exciting day of racing that fans can watch and wager on at Gulfstream. Favorites for the Oaks include Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Grace Hall, Palm Meadows resident and Gulfstream winner Karlovy Vary, the Matz-trained And Why Not, the Pletcher Stable’s Forward Gal (G2) winner Broadway’s Alibi and Old Hat (G3) winner Sacristy.