04/01/2013 4:24PM

Gulfstream attracts 20,000 for Florida Derby Day

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Gulfstream Park set an attendance mark and fell just shy of matching a record handle on Florida Derby Day.

A crowd estimated at 20,382 packed the facility on Saturday, surpassing the previous mark of 18,224 (since the current facility opened in 2006) set here last year on Florida Derby Day. Total handle on the 13-race program was $24.67 million, including wagers from Latin America, all but equalling last year’s record $24.69 million handle. Ontrack handle of $1.37 million was up 7 percent over 2012.

“Florida Derby Day was an incredible experience, and we continue to buck industry trends with our ontrack handle and attendance figures,” Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said.

Big money on closing day

Due to a purse underpayment throughout the meet, the 2012-13 session will close with a bang with purses on Friday’s 13-race program totaling in excess of $560,000 without a stakes race on the card.

The final six races have drawn full fields of 12 or more horses each and will make up the 10-cent Rainbow 6. The Rainbow 6 carryover will exceed $2 million if it is not hit on Wednesday or Thursday, and the entire pool, which could grow as high as $8 million by post time for the eighth race, must be distributed on closing day.