HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla., Mar. 23, 2008---

Easter Sunday might have come early this year but thankfully the Florida Derby didn’t. If it had, the million dollar Grade 1 would have needed to be canceled, as was Saturday’s Gulfstream Park card following the sixth race.

If you’ve spent a fair amount of time around the racetrack, you knew what was coming when post time for the sixth was delayed for approximately seven minutes while the jockeys held a meeting to discuss the conditions.

The surface at Gulfstream Park has been quite speed favoring of late but there weren’t any complaints relative to its safety. On this issue the racetrack rumor mill had been dormant. So, how bad was yesterday’s rainstorm?
Women were walking barefoot in and out of the elevators on the first floor. The second floor had three-foot wide puddles at the top at the top of the escalators a couple of inches deep. These areas, mind you, were under cover. Employees said there were puddles over three feet deep in some sections of their parking area.

But the rain just kept coming, in waves, the strong winds pushing it sideways. Areas from North Miami Beach, a few miles to the south of Hallandale, to Ft. Lauderdale, about 10 miles to the north, received anywhere from 3.5 to five inches of rain in less than three hours.

Miserable conditions seems an inadequate description. At times, visibility was extremely limited, the worst of the torrents appearing to come after the riders made their decision not to ride out a card that included the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes.

Frank Stronach really can’t catch a break. Not only did he lose a half-day of live receipts, live customers, with flooded streets hindering access to and from the track, but his streaking Sugar Swirl looked impossible to beat on paper as the 7-5 Forward Gal favorite vs. six rivals.

The jockeys canceled a program that began before the first race with them autographing posters for fans who lined up early and often for the souvenir. The customers seemed appreciative, judging from the smiling faces, and the jocks appeared to be having some good natured fun of their own.