Saturday, September 27, 2008
Interesting Twists to the 2009 Stakes Schedule
The Florida Derby has been the exit race for two of the last three Kentucky Derby winners, and in 2009 it will once again be contested five weeks before the First Saturday in May.
The $750,000 test for 3-year-olds on March 28 will be the premier event of Gulfstream Park’s 66th meeting, which begins Saturday, Jan. 3, and concludes Sunday, April 19.
The 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby was won by dual classic winner Big Brown in 2008 and by the legendary Barbaro in 2006. Florida’s most important thoroughbred event, it has been contested over the years by such other superstars as Nashua, Needles and Northern Dancer; Bold Ruler and Carry Back; Forego, Foolish Pleasure and Spectacular Bid; and Unbridled, Holy Bull, Thunder Gulch and Empire Maker.
“Gulfstream Park earned its lofty reputation through years of top-class racing and my chief concern was to put together a program that would assure fans and horsemen that those same high standards would remain intact,” said Mr. Bredar. “Consultations with the country’s leading horsemen, as well as the wealth of knowledge and expertise offered by my colleagues here, lead me to believe that this schedule will provide us with large fields and the same top-quality racing.”
Another component that Mr. Bredar factored in while making the schedule was balance.
“It was very important that this schedule be balanced and that it give virtually every category, or division of horses, a comparable amount of races, with distance, spacing and balanced purse numbers as my major concerns,” he said.
The addition of four stakes (Tallahassee, Marion County, Sunshine State and Ocala) exclusively for Florida-breds will compliment the sixth edition of the Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions. The Sunshine Millions, a package of eight races worth $3.6 million and exclusively for Florida- and California-breds, is as popular with the wagering public as it is with the breeding industry. Gulfstream Park and sister track Santa Anita co-host four of the eight races on a rotating basis and this year the main event, the $1 million Classic for older horses, will be run at Gulfstream.
Local horsemen will also benefit from the $250,000 purse reduction of the Florida Derby, which had been valued at $1 million since 2001.
“The changing economics, along with our traditional commitment to Florida’s horsemen, demand that we take this step,” said Gulfstream Park President and General Manager Bill Murphy.
There are 48 stakes races carded for the 2009 meet, with a Gulfstream Park record 42 such races worth $100,000 or more.
In addition to the Florida Derby and Sunshine Millions races, other major events are the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, which shares the marquee on the Jan. 31 card with the Holy Bull; the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf, which shares the next day’s card with the Suwannee River; the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, which, with the Canadian Turf Handicap, will be run Feb. 28; and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, which shares the March 14 card with the Palm Beach.
Ladies come first every day at Gulfstream, especially on Sundays, when the bulk of the stakes for fillies and mares will be run. Other attractions of special interest to the fairer sex will be announced as the meeting gets closer.
“Horse racing’s appeal is strong with women and we want Sundays to be special not only in terms of the racing product but also in terms of the various attractions Gulfstream offers,” Mr. Murphy said. “Dining and special events are also of importance here and, as the days go by, we will make sure that Gulfstream will be noted for a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere to all.”
There were some notable distance changes from past years: the distance of the Holy Bull was shortened from 1 3/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles; the distance of the Gulfstream Park Handicap was shortened from 1 3/16 miles to a mile; the distance of the Fountain of Youth was shortened from 1 1/8 miles to a mile, and the distance of the Gulfstream Park Turf was shortened from 1 3/8 miles to 1 1/8 miles.
A twist in the calendar will feature stakes racing on three Fridays during the meet: The Hutcheson and the Forward Gal on Jan. 30 will usher in Donn weekend; the Sabin will be run Feb. 20 and the Bonnie Miss will be run March 27, the day before the Florida Derby.
Additionally, the Shirley Jones Handicap was renamed to honor 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Inside Information.
The stakes schedule follows:
Date Race, Grade Division Value Distance, Surface
Sat. Jan. 3 Hal’s Hope (G3) 4-year-olds and up $100,000 1 Mile
Spectacular Bid 3-year-olds $100,000 6 Furlongs
Sun. Jan. 4 Old Hat (G3) 3-year-old Fillies $100,000 6 Furlongs
Sat. Jan. 10 Fort Lauderdale 4-year-olds and up $100,000 1 1/16 Miles (T)
Sun. Jan. 11 Marshua’s River 4-year-olds and up, Fillies & Mares $100,000 1 1/16 Miles (T)
Sat. Jan. 17 Mr. Prospector (G3) 4-year-olds and up $100,000 6 Furlongs
Dania Beach 3-year-olds $100,000 1 Mile (T)
Sun. Jan. 18 First Lady (G3) 4-year-olds and up, Fillies & Mares $100,000 6 Furlongs
Sweetest Chant 3-year-old Fillies $100,000 1 Mile (T)
Sat. Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions Day
SM Dash 3-year-olds $250,000 6 Furlongs
SM F & M Sprint 4-year-olds and up, Fillies & Mares $300,000 6 Furlongs
SM F & M Turf 4-year-olds and up, Fillies & Mares $500,000 1 1/8 Miles (T)
SM Classic 4-year-olds and up $1 million 1 1/8 Miles
Fri. Jan. 30 Hutcheson (G2) 3-year-olds $150,000 7 Furlongs
Forward Gal (G2) 3-year-old Fillies $150,000 7 Furlongs
Sat. Jan. 31 Donn H. (G1) 4-year-olds & up $500,000 1 1/8 Miles
Holy Bull (G3) 3-year-olds $150,000 1 1/8 Miles
Sun. Feb. 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Hdp. (G1) 4-year-olds & up $250,000 1 1/8 Miles (T)
Suwannee River (G3) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $125,000 1 1/8 Miles (T)
Sat. Feb. 7 Tallahassee 4-year-olds & up, Fla.-breds $75,000 1 Mile (T)
Sun Feb. 8 Marion County 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares, Fla.-breds $75,000 1 Mile (T)
Sat. Feb. 14 Richter Scale (G2) 4-year-olds & up $150,000 7 Furlongs
Hallandale Beach 3-year-olds $125,000 1 1/16 Miles (T)
Sun. Feb. 15 Hurricane Bertie (G3) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $125,000 6 1/2 Furlongs
Coconut Grove 3-year-old Fillies $125,000 1 1/16 Miles (T)
Fri. Feb. 20 Sabin (G3) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $100,000 1 Mile
Sat. Feb. 21 Mac Diarmida (G2) 4-year-olds & up $150,000 1 3/8 Miles (T)
Sun. Feb. 22 The Very One (G3) 4 & up, Fillies & Mares $100,000 1 3/8 Miles (T)
Sat. Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth (G2) 3-year-olds $250,000 1 Mile
Canadian Turf (G3) 4-year-olds & up $150,000 1 Mile (T)
Sun. March 1 Davona Dale (G2) 3-year-old Fillies $150,000 1 Mile
Sat. March 7 Honey Fox (G3) 4 & up, Fillies & Mares $100,000 1 Mile (T)
Sunshine State 4 & up, Fla.-breds $75,000 7 Furlongs
Sun. March 8 Ocala 4 & up, Fillies & Mares, Fla.-breds $75,000 1 Mile
Sat. March 14 Gulfstream Park Hdp. (G2) 4-year-olds & up $300,000 1 Mile
Palm Beach (G3) 3-year-olds $150,000 1 1/8 Miles (T)
Sun. March 15 Inside Information (G2) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $150,000 7 Furlongs
Herecomesthebride (G3) 3-year-old Fillies $150,000 1 1/8M (T)
Sat. March 21 Pan American (G3) 4-year-olds & up $150,000 1 1/2 Miles (T)
Sun. March 22 Orchid (G3) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $150,000 1 1/2 Miles (T)
Fri. March 27 Bonnie Miss (G2) 3-year-old Fillies $200,000 1 1/8 Miles
Sat. March 28 Florida Derby (G1) 3-year-olds $750,000 1 1/8 Miles
Swale (G2) 3-year-olds $150,000 7 Furlongs
Appleton (G3) 4-year-olds & up $100,000 7 1/2 Furlongs (T)
Sun. March 29 Rampart (G2) 4-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares $150,000 1 1/8 Miles
Sat. April 4 Skip Away (G3) 3-year-olds & up $100,000 1 3/16 Miles
Sat. April 11 South Beach 3-year-old & up, Fillies & Mares $50,000 7 1/2 Furlongs (T)
Sat. April 18 Boynton Beach 3-year-old Fillies $50,000 1 Mile (T)
Gulfstream Park, which opened in 1939, is located on approximately 250 acres of land in the cities of Hallandale and Aventura, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida. World famous for its thoroughbred race meet each winter, highlighted by the $1 million Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park is also now home to hundreds of Las Vegas-style slot machines, a luxurious poker room and restaurants. In the near future, Gulfstream Park will become home to a one-of-a-kind retail-residential center, to be known as The Village at Gulfstream Park. For more information, contact Mike Mullaney, phone: 954-457-6451,
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