Gulfstream Sets All-Time Florida Derby Record For Total Handle
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park set an all-time Florida Derby Day handle record Saturday when $26.8 million was wagered on the live program highlighted by the 63rd edition of the Grade I event.
The $26.8 million topped the previous mark set in 2013 of $24.6 million, representing a 8.96 percent increase.
The Florida Derby Day handle has increased year-to-year since 2011.
The record handle in Gulfstream's old building was $24.4 million in March of 2001. The building was torn down in 2004 to make way for the current state-of-the-art facility.
Crowds witnessed another memorable afternoon of Thoroughbred racing Saturday as well as an exciting stretch duel in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) that resulted in a neck victory by Constitution over Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Wildcat Red.
The victory aboard Constitution was the first Florida Derby win for three-time leading rider Javier Castellano and the second for trainer Todd Pletcher, who will win an unprecedented 11th consecutive training title at Gulfstream.
Gulfstream, which ends its Champion's Meet for statistical purposes April 6, continues to experiment to make the fans' experience the best it can possibly be. Officials decided to make Saturday's Florida Derby the last race on its program. Earlier this year it agreed to run the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) as the last race on a Sunday program.
"We want to thank our fans and guests for making the 2014 Florida Derby so memorable," said Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo. "We also want to thank the horsemen for putting on such a memorable afternoon of racing, the jockeys who continue to build goodwill with our fans, and the staff here at Gulfstream. Some of our employees parked as far as two miles off site and were shuttled in.
"We also continue to try new things at Gulfstream. We carded the Florida Derby and the Donn Handicap earlier this year as our last races, and ran the Donn on a Sunday. Because of our incredible facility, and because of all the entertainment, dining and shopping options, we feel we can offer our fans and guests and entire afternoon and evening of entertainment options.
"Our Chairman, Frank Stronach, has a vision to make Thoroughbred racing a sporting and entertainment experience that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
We continue to see his vision become a reality. As always, we will gain valuable feedback the next several weeks from horsemen and fans about their experience at Gulfstream, and continue building the sport of Thoroughbred racing as we embark on our summer racing season."