Gulfstream will play host to 45 stakes races – 33 of them graded – for purses of more than $8 million. Gulfstream’s commitment to the industry and its fans is evident by the 2011 schedule, which features purse increases to a number of major stakes including the Grade I Florida Derby, enriched from $750,000 to $1 million.
In all, Gulfstream has increased the purses of its major races for 3-year-old colts and geldings – the Jan. 30 Holy Bull, Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth and April 3 Florida Derby – a total of $650,000. It has also increased the purses of its major races for 3-year-old fillies – the Jan. 30 Forward Gal, Feb. 26 Davona Dale and April 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks – a total of $250,000. All six races are also part of the Preakness 5.5 and Black-Eyed Susan 2.2, a unique and historic bonus program that could award owners and trainers nearly $8 million in bonus money.
Coupled with more than $30 million in total purses for the meet and an increase in overnight purses of approximately 15 percent, Gulfstream will not only be the place to race the winter of 2011 but the most lucrative path to the Triple Crown.
“You’ll find the stakes schedule at Gulfstream is the best path to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Black-Eyed Susan and every other major race in the country,” said Timothy Ritvo, VP, East Coast Racing for MI Developments Inc. “I think with the bonus incentives and the purse increases, Gulfstream’s 3-year-old races are perfectly positioned and offer horsemen the most lucrative stakes programs heading into the spring classics.”
Racing Dan Bork said: “We’re going to have a strong meet with the sport’s best outfits. We’re focused on building our 3-year-old program, and we’ve certainly boosted it this year nearly an additional $1 million and the bonus programs. I’m looking forward to continue growing the meet.”
One slight modification this season will be both the Holy Bull and Florida Derby being run on Sunday rather than Saturday. “It’s a chance to try something new,” Ritvo said. “We want to promote these great races as part of a big weekend of racing. The Florida Derby will be part of a weekend festival that will include six graded races worth more than $1.8 million.”
While the Florida Derby has produced 39 horses who have won 54 Triple Crown events, the Fountain of Youth and Holy Bull have also gained a reputation for producing quality classic runners. The Fountain of Youth has been contested by Kentucky Derby winners Thunder Gulch (1995), Spectacular Bid (1979), Kauai King (1966) and Tim Tam (1958) as well as Kentucky Derby runnerup Forty Niner (1988) The Holy Bull has served as a prep race for Kentucky Derby winners Barbaro (2006), Funny Cide (2003) and Go for Gin (1994) as well as Derby runnerup Closing Argument (2006).
For older horses, Gulfstream’s $500,000 Donn Handicap, a major prep for the Dubai World Cup, will provide fans with one of two Grade I races on Feb. 5. Along with the Donn, Gulfstream will also play host that day to the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
The ninth edition of the popular Sunshine Millions will be contested Jan. 29 at both Gulfstream and its sister track Santa Anita Park. This year, Gulfstream will play host to the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, $300,000 Filly & Mare Turf, and $200,000 Filly & Mare Sprint.
Gulfstream’s turf course will once again be the site of full fields and the country’s top turf stars. On Jan. 9, Gulfstream has carded two turf events – the Marshua’s River for fillies and mares and the Fort Lauderdale. The Palm Beach, which served last year as a launching point for multiple-graded stakes winner Paddy O’Prado, will be held March 12; The Orchid, for fillies and mares across 1 ½ miles, will be contested March 20 while it’s counterpart for older males, the Pan American, will be March 26.
The Racing Calendar with all the live race dates, special events, promotions and stakes race dates can be seen here: http://www.gulfstreampark.com/racing/race-info/racing-calendar