New Gulfstream Turf Course Receives Rave Reviews
Zayas, Panici Breeze Pair of Joseph Trainees Monday
Grass Racing Returns for Championship Meet Friday
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The new turf course at Gulfstream Park received rave reviews from jockeys Edgard Zayas and Luca Panici after riding a pair of Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained horses in company for a half-mile Monday morning.
“It feels great. It’s beautiful,” said Zayas, who captured the riding title during the Sunshine Meet that concluded Saturday. “I can’t wait to ride on it Friday.”
The 2023-2024 Championship Meet gets underway on Friday while offering the first turf races at Gulfstream since the renovation of the grass course began in May.
Zayas was aboard Sunshine Frolic, a 3-year-old son of California Chrome who worked inside General Ledger, a 2-year-old son of Summer Front ridden by Panici.
“Right now, the turf isn’t dry. It’s nice and moist. They got over it great,” Zayas said. “I can’t wait. I love turf racing. It’s my favorite. I’m really excited about the new turf and I’m excited turf racing’s back.”
Sunshine Frolic, who broke his maiden on Tapeta in his second career start, and General Ledger, who won his debut impressively on dirt, ran as a team from the half-mile pole to the finish line before galloping out with energy. Both horses were timed in 48.14 seconds.
“It’s nice, very consistent. They got over it nice.,” Panici said. “It’s not hard. It’s looking good.”
Joseph used the opportunity to participate in the first workouts on the new turf course to introduce Sunshine Frolic and General Ledger to grass.
“Both of them have never run on the grass. Both of them most likely want to run on the grass, most likely,” Joseph said. “One has won on the Tapeta and the other is bred for all grass.”
Joseph was visually taken by the pristine surface.
“It’s a beautiful piece of ground,” Joseph said.
Two races on turf have been carded for Friday’s opening day program, including a $72,000 optional claiming allowance, a five-furlong sprint featuring the return of Yes I Am Free, who has won the last two runnings of the Gulfstream Turf Sprint (G3). Multiple graded stakes-placed Bad Beat Brian is slated to make his local debut for owner/trainer Brittany Vanden Berg in the Race 9 feature.
Three races on turf are scheduled for Saturday, when the Tropical Turf Pick Three will debut. The $3 minimum wager, which has a low 15-percent takeout, will be available on the last three turf races every Saturday and Sunday. Races 1, 8 and 11 will make up Saturday’s Tropical Turf Pick Three. Atone, who won this year’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), is scheduled to make his return to Gulfstream in Race 8.