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Derby Contenders, Champion Filly and Five Stakes Highlight Weekend
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park, the winter home of champions, classic winners and Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys, is preparing for one of its biggest weekends.
After watching the winners of last year’s three Triple Crown events compete at Gulfstream in the span of seven days – after seeing powerful performances last weekend from Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom and Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) runner-up Force Freeze – Gulfstream will play host to five graded-stakes races the weekend of Feb. 25-26, including last year’s champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta and the top contenders for this year’s Triple Crown.
The highlight of the weekend will be Sunday’s $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) which will attract top-rated 3-year-olds Union Rags, Algorithms and Discreet Dancer.
Union Rags, trained by Michael Matz, the conditioner of the celebrated Barbaro, is regarded as this year’s early Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby favorite off his victory in last year’s Champagne (G1) and troubled second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Algorithms, undefeated in three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, comes into the Fountain of Youth off an impressive victory Jan. 29 in the Holy Bull (G3). Pletcher is set to run another undefeated colt in the Fountain of Youth in Discreet Dancer, who set a track record when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Dec. 3.
While Sunday’s Fountain of Youth program will also include the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap (G2) over 1 3/8 miles on the turf course, the Saturday program at Gulfstream will include three stakes races. One of them, the $100,000 Sabin (G3), will mark the 2012 debut of champion Royal Delta, last year’s Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old filly and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) and Alabama (G1).
The weekend kicks off Saturday between 7-10 a.m. with Breakfast at Gulfstream. The popular event in the Pisco Porton Tiki Hut will feature special guests Edgar Prado, handicappers Ron Nicoletti and Jessica Pacheco and track announcer Larry Collmus. Those purchasing breakfast will be eiligible to win an Xbox 360.
Stick around the Tiki Hut for the races and listen to musician/handicapper Ernie Munick handicap the races, play acoustic guitar and test your racing knowledge to win betting vouchers.
Stick around after the races Saturday night when gourmet food trucks featured at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival pull up to the Tiki Hut to serve the finest and most innovative cuisine. Post time is 6 p.m. The trucks will be featured the following evening at the official festival closing party of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Sunday’s festivities begin at 11 a.m. when the Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper Mike Watchmaker takes part in Gulfstream’s Handicapping Seminar Series. Watchmaker will talk about the Fountain of Youth, the top Florida and Kentucky Derby contenders, and focus on Sunday’s top races.