Edited Gulfstream Release – Training on the newly installed Tapeta track got underway Friday morning at Gulfstream Park, where horses galloped on the all-weather surface that is tentatively scheduled to open for races next Thursday afternoon.
Jockey Chantal Sutherland said she was impressed with the Tapeta surface after galloping Leon McKanas-trained Thenorthremembers, a 5-year-old Violence gelding who captured a mile turf race for $25,000 claimers in his most recent start.
“Of all the Tapetas and Polytracks this is, by far, one of the better ones. This is beautiful. The horse went over it effortlessly. It was super-soft, and you could not hear horses beside you making any noise on it. My horse, I couldn’t hear hitting the ground,” Sutherland said. “They’ve done a great job on it. It seemed all level and really soft, very forgiving for horses.”
Joe Orseno-trained Timmy M. was among the first horses to gallop over the track that replaced the outer turf course. Twice stakes-placed on turf during his juvenile campaign, Timmy M., a 5-year-old son of Morning Line, has been competing in allowance optional claimer and claiming races since a fourth-place finish in November of 2019 in the Millions Turf Preview at Gulfstream Park West.
“He just ran the other day and we thought he was in a good spot where he could win. He didn’t run very well. I was actually going to sell him, but then I said, ‘You know what? Tapeta – let’s try him,’” said Orseno, who was pleased with how Timmy M. looked getting over the new surface Friday. “We’re going to run him at the end of the month on it, but today was just galloping for the sake of galloping. I thought it was a good experiment.”
Although most horses will be entering unknown territory on the Tapeta track, the new surface provides trainers with hope that some of their horses will improve over the new surface.
“You might get that odd horse that will go right up the ladder on it. Everyone’s hoping that they have the one,” Orseno said.
Kathy Mongeon-trained Anonymous Source, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly who won a $12,500 maiden claiming race on turf three starts back, was the first horse to step onto the Tapeta surface Friday with veteran exercise rider Walter Blum Jr. up.
“This felt amazing on the horse I was on. I think she really loved it,” Blum said. “People ask how do you know? When she first stepped on it, she was very light-footed, and when I went to pull her up, I could barely pull her up. She didn’t even get tired and I let her clip around there finishing up.”
Blum has a wealth of experience galloping and breezing horses over all-weather surfaces.
“I rode Polytrack at Keeneland and Santa Anita. [The Tapeta surface] was so soft and nice. It had a lot of cushion to it, a lot of bounce,” Blum said. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic surface once it works in in a week’s time, once these guys are able to work on it, they’re going to like this.”
Due to the closure of Gulfstream Park West, Gulfstream Park is scheduled to conduct racing year-round, prompting the construction of the Tapeta track. The new surface will provide a measure of relief to the turf course while offering a varied racing program for horses of all abilities. Gulfstream Park will become the first track to offer racing on dirt, turf and all-weather surfaces.
Thursday’s program will mark the opening of the Fall Meet, during which races will not be scheduled on the turf course, which will undergo renovation for the Championship Meet. Six stakes, formerly run on turf, will be renewed on the Tapeta course.