Gulfstream Park Racecourse is one of the premier race tracks anywhere in the United States. The track and it’s adjoining casino sit at a place called Hallandale Beach in Florida, just 20 minutes from world-famous Miami Beach with its proximity to such an area meaning it is very well supported on race days.
It’s prevalence on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, as well as hosting some of the most valuable races in the world over the winter as part of the Pegasus World Cup meeting, make this venue one of the most important anywhere in the country and that’s something recognised by everyone within the sport.
Opening for business way back in 1939, Gulfstream Park Racecourse is not only hugely admired now but has a very full a rich horse racing history too. Great horses such as Swaps and Barbaro have been successful here before going onto other things, while the track also played host to the 1989 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Breeding Ground for Top Trainers
The top jockey and trainer lists here read like a who’s who of American racing, the most successful riders in recent times here including Grade I winners Tyler Gaffalione, Luis Saez, Joel Rosario and many other top names.
The top trainers at recent meets are even more impressive, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Dale Romans, Jorge Navarro, Chad Brown, Jason Servis, Bill Mott, Mark Casse and Brendan Walsh all having shown up high here for earnings having contested some of the major Kentucky Derby trials with their horses.
Along with the likes of Santa Anita Park, Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Belmont Park Gulfstream sits comfortably in the top ten of American racetracks for overall importance within the sport, there is very little doubt about that.
Admission Prices at Gulfstream Park
In a move that always puts European race tracks to shame, many American venues provide completely free parking and admission to the track and Gulfstream Park is one of them. The free entry is made all the more generous by the fact that this is a premier track that features Grade I races.
Gulfstream Park Track Details
Unusually for the States, the outer track at Gulfstream is nine furlongs around as opposed to the usual one-mile oval.
It is still left-handed and tight of course, meaning the usual things apply in as much as you need speed and agility to get into position around the bends, while a good draw won’t hurt either. Those finding themselves too wide around these bends will be giving away crucial distance.
When the rain comes here, which it does quite often in Florida, the track can actually ride very fast as the dirt compacts.
There are also a number of high-profile turf races run at Gulfstream, the grass course running on the inner of the dirt course.
Things are even tighter here with the turf track being just seven furlongs around, making things even more about speed and balance. The difference between the dirt and the turf tracks really surrounds the rain; while the dirt track can get faster in ‘sloppy’ going the turf course can become much more testing.
Despite this, it is always better to concentrate on speed more than stamina around Gulfstream, though be careful to remember this doesn’t simply mean looking out a front-runner to back. Pace-setters can often tire out, but we need to find horses with good speed figures meaning they have shown a turn of foot over a two-furlong distance, tactical speed that is needed to go well around this track.
As one of the biggest and most loved tracks anywhere in the States, Gulfstream Park boasts a huge stakes schedule. Among them are these important, top-class races run at the track every year:
- Pegasus World Cup – Grade I, 1m1f, January*
- Pegasus World Cup Turf – Grade I, 1m1f (turf), January
- Holy Bull Stakes – Grade II, 1m½f, 3yo only, January/February**
- Fountain of Youth Stakes – Grade II, 1m½f, 3yo only, February**
- Florida Derby – Grade I, 1m1f, 3yo only, March**
*For a short time, this was the most valuable race in the world at $16million. **The Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and especially the Florida Derby are all considered key prep races for the Kentucky Derby in May.
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