08/16/2013 12:27PM

Gulfstream Park: $10.75 million in stakes up for grabs


Three-year-olds again will be the center of attention at Gulfstream Park’s traditional 2013-2014 meeting, with the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby the centerpiece of a record $10.75 million in stakes purses to be distributed. Dubbed the “champions meet,” it opens on Nov. 30, a day after Gulfstream’s inaugural summer meet ends.

Gulfstream, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary during the meet, is scheduled to race year-round.

The Florida Derby has produced 22 Kentucky Derby winners, including Orb, who won both races earlier this year for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The Florida Derby, to be contested at 1 1/8 miles, will be the centerpiece of an outstanding day of racing on March 29 that includes seven other stakes, led by the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

The Florida Derby is one of nine stakes for 3-year-olds to be offered at Gulfstream Park in 2014, beginning with the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, a race won this year by Florida Derby and Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday. The 3-year-old program includes the Grade 3 Holy Bull (Jan. 25) and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth (Feb. 22).

There will be two Grade 1 races for older horses, the Donn Handicap on the main track and the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on grass. Both races will be held Feb. 8.

The Claiming Crown, which was run at Gulfstream Park for the first time last year, will return on Dec. 7 with a new race for fillies and mares added and a purse increase to $1 million for the eight races. The Claiming Crown will be held at Gulfstream in 2014 and 2015 as well. The new race is the $110,000 Iron Lady, for fillies and mares who have started for a claiming price of $7,500 since Jan. 1, 2012, going 1 1/16 miles.

The Florida Sunshine Millions on Jan. 18 will again serve as a warm-up for the 2013 Eclipse Award ceremonies, which will be held at Gulfstream that night for the second consecutive year.

“We are very excited about our champions meet this coming winter,” said Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream Park president. “Our record stakes schedule once again shows our commitment to Thoroughbred racing as well as horsemen throughout North America.”