Gulfstream Opens Tomorrow for Blockbuster Meet
Thursday, November 28, 2019

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The 2019-2020 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park will get under way Friday for 89 days of world-class racing, and featuring the country's top tier thoroughbreds, trainers and jockeys.

    An eight-decade tradition of racing will continue through March 29 while the bar will be raised to provide Gulfstream patrons with a more enjoyable and exciting day at the races

    Gulfstream is undergoing an extensive $20 million modernization project designed to enhance the racing, dining and entertainment experiences of its fans. Although not all elements will be completed by Friday, highlights of the project include a new infield tote board measuring 100 feet by 30 feet boasting a high-density pixel LED screen; an enhanced sound system on the apron and grandstand areas; additional LED screens and televisions throughout the facility; a new open-air Dining Terrace on the second floor overlooking the racetrack, featuring luxury boxes with private TVs, as well as a lounge section, both offering food and beverage service from Ten Palms.

    First-race post time is set for 12:35 p.m. for Friday’s 10-race program that will feature a $100,000 pool guarantee for the 20-cent Rainbow 6. Live racing will primarily be conducted on a Wednesday-Sunday schedule through the fall and winter months.

    The Championship Meet schedule includes 98 stakes (39 graded) worth more than $28.6 million in purses.

    The $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational series will bring together the best in thoroughbred racing and entertainment for a memorable world-class event on Jan. 25. The $9 million Pegasus World Cup, won in 2019 by City of Light, and the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, captured by Bricks and Mortar in last season’s inaugural running, will co-headline a program with nine stakes, including four other graded stakes.

    The $1 million Florida Derby will headline a seven-stakes program on March 28 that will include the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The Florida Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown races, was won last year by Maximum Security, who went on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby, only to be controversially disqualified.

    The Road to the Triple Crown will also include the $350,000 Holy Bull, which will anchor a program with six graded stakes on Feb. 1, and the $400,000 Fountain of Youth, which will headline a blockbuster Feb. 29 program that will offer nine graded stakes.

    The stakes schedule will be kicked off Saturday by the Juvenile Showcase program featuring six stakes for 2-year-olds.

    The second weekend of the Championship Meet will be co-headlined by the $1.1 million Claiming Crown, an event with nine stakes for horses that have started in a claiming race. The colorful Clasico Internacional del Caribe card with five stakes for horses from the Caribbean and Latin America, featuring the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe, is set for Sunday, Dec. 8.

    Irad Ortiz Jr., who edged two-time defending champion Luis Saez, 135-134, to capture his first Championship Meet riding title last season, will return for a title defense, joining his brother, Jose Ortiz, as well as Hall of Famers John Velazquez and Javier Castellano, in a world-class jockey’s room.

    Jorge Navarro, who snapped his streak of three consecutive second-place finishes behind 15-time training titlist Todd Pletcher to win the 2018-2019 Championship Meet crown, is gearing up for a title defense while saddling horses beside Hall of Famers Bill Mott and Shug McGaughey, along with reigning three-time Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown and numerous other prominent conditioners.

    Brown will be in the running for a fourth honor at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards, which will be hosted by Gulfstream for the eighth consecutive year on Jan. 23.

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