01/30/2014 5:57PM

Gulfstream Park's 75 best runners: A look back

Barbara D. Livingston
A.P. Indy won the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Gulfstream as a 3-year-old en route to Horse of the Year honors.

Based on their performances at Gulfstream Park
All won at least one stakes at Gulfstream, except for Mr. Prospector
† Racing Hall of Fame inductee

A.P. Indy (1989)†
Alydar (1975)†
Armed (1941)†
Bald Eagle (1955)

Barbaro (2003)

Early in 2006, trainer Michael Matz had Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s son of Dynaformer fit and ready at Gulfstream, where he captured the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 4 and the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby eight weeks later – setting him up perfectly for an assault on the Triple Crown. Barbaro easily won the Kentucky Derby, but broke down catastrophically in the Preakness. Surgery on his damaged right hind leg was performed, but the great colt later succumbed to laminitis, bringing international focus on and funding for equine research related to racetrack injuries.

Bayakoa (Arg) (1984)†
Behrens (1994)

Big Brown (2005)
Big Brown was the buzz during the winter and early spring of 2008. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. brought the son of Boundary to Florida for his Triple Crown prep, and on March 5 he made his seasonal debut a winning one, taking a one-mile Gulfstream allowance by 12 3/4 lengths in 1:35.66. The colt’s subsequent million-dollar Florida Derby stroll set him up perfectly for a Kentucky Derby cakewalk on the first Saturday in May. Big Brown followed with a nearly identical victory in the Preakness, and later in the year added two more big victories on his way to a divisional championship.

Bowl Game (1974)
Buck’s Boy (1993)
Carry Back (1958)†
Candy Spots (1960)
Cat Thief (1996)

Christmas Past (1979)
The remarkable gray filly Christmas Past never tasted defeat at Gulfstream. On Feb. 26, 1983 Cynthia Phipps’s royally bred daughter of Grey Dawn II was favored to beat a field of good older males in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, and that is just what she did. She outran the tough Crafty Prospector by a neck, with Rivalero another neck back in third, to become the second – and most recent – of her gender to win that marquee event. In her previous start Christmas Past had taken a Gulfstream allowance race by five, and in 1982 had easily won the Grade 3 Bonnie Miss Stakes at the track for trainer Angel Penna Jr.

Cigar (1990)†
Cigar’s achievements were many – enough to earn him back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in the mid-1990s and early induction into the Racing Hall of Fame. But he will forever be remembered for that amazing modern-day-record-tying 16-race win streak strung together between Oct. 28, 1994 and July 13, 1996. Four of those victories came at Gulfstream Park, among them the 1995 and ‘96 Donn Handicaps, and the 1995 Gulfstream Park Handicap, all three Grade 1 events. In fact, Cigar never lost in four starts at the South Florida track.

Crafty Admiral (1948)
Crafty Admiral was better known for his rugged grit and determination than for sheer brilliance, but that was quite good enough. Certainly, his record of 18 wins and 10 placings in 39 starts and earnings of $499,200 in the early 1950s was more than adequate. So, too, were his back-to-back victories in the 1952 and ’53 Gulfstream Park Handicaps, the former helping carry him to a year-end title as champion older male. Crafty Admiral also won Gulfstream’s Olympic Handicap, and is well known as the broodmare sire of Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

Cryptoclearance (1984)
Cryptoclearance was a grand horse by any standard of measurement, though not quite a great one. Yet, on a good day he could run with the best and nowhere did he run better than at Gulfstream, a track he loved. In seven starts at Gulfstream, the Fappiano colt finished in the top three six times. Two of his four Grade 1 victories came at Gulfstream, in the 1987 Florida Derby and ’89 Donn Handicap. He typically came from well back and often got the job done – all guts, little glory. Cryptoclearance finished second in the ’88 Gulfstream Park and Donn handicaps en route to earnings of $3,376,327.

Davona Dale (1976)†
Daylami (Ire) (1994)
Decathlon (1982)
Deputy Minister (1979)
Easy Goer (1986)
Empire Maker (2000)
Favorite Trick (1995)
Foolish Pleasure (1972)
Forego (1970)†
Forty Niner (1985)
Forward Pass (1965)

:: Gulfstream Park turns 75 – Special Section

Fraise (1988)
Allen Paulson’s Fraise might have been called a hard-luck horse, except that he won 10 races and $2.6 million. Three of those victories came at Gulfstream – in the 1992 and ’93 editions of the Grade 2 Pan American, and, more importantly, the ’92 Breeders’ Cup Turf. In the Cup, 14-1 Fraise out-nodded heavily favored Sky Classic, leaving in his wake as well a pair of Epsom Derby winners and a defending Arc de Triomphe winner.

Gen. Duke (1954)
Go for Wand (1987)†
Gun Bow (1960)†

Hal’s Hope (1997)
Florida-bred, foaled, raced, and trained, Hal’s Hope was one of the most beloved racehorses ever to set foot on the Gulfstream racecourse, and as such has had a Grade 3 race named in his honor since 2003. Although he carried his class from track to track, the Jolie’s Halo colt was at his best at Gulfstream, where he captured the 2000 Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 3 Holy Bull, and two years later won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap and Grade 3 Creme Fraiche Handicap (the race that was subsequently renamed to honor him). All four of Hal’s Hope’s graded stakes wins came at Gulfstream.

Harlan’s Holiday (1999)

Holy Bull (1991)†
Another great Florida-bred, this one campaigned for and was trained by Warren “Jimmy” Croll, who once famously noted that if someone offered him $40 million for his gray colt, he’d “laugh at ‘em.” Holy Bull was nothing to laugh at in early 1994. At his Gulfstream base he won the Grade 2 Hutcheson on Jan. 30, then uncorked a six-length score in the Florida Derby. Though he failed as favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Holy Bull redeemed himself later that year, earning a Horse of the Year title and eventual induction into the Racing Hall of Fame. The Holy Bull Stakes, run at Gulfstream since 1995, annually draws top 3-year-olds and classic contenders.

Honest Pleasure (1973)

Honey Ryder (2001)
If ever there was a horse for a course, Honey Ryder was the horse and Gulfstream was the course. The long-fused gray Lasting Approval mare simply adored the grass when racing between 2006 and 2009, finishing on the board in each of her eight starts over that surface. Racing for Glencrest Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher, she won the 12-furlong Grade 3 Orchid Handicap and the 1 3/8-mile Grade 3 The Very One Handicap. In the latter race, Honey Ryder cracked the course record, running the distance in 2:11.71, and the following year carved her name in the Gulfstream record books once more in establishing a 1 1/2-mile turf mark of 2:23.07 in the Orchid.

Horse Chestnut (SAf) (1995)
Housebuster (1987)†

In Reality (1964)
In Reality had the misfortune to come along in the same crop as two of racing’s all-time greats: Dr. Fager and Damascus. Although he spent three seasons dwelling in the shadow of that immortal pair, Mrs. Frances Genter’s homebred son of Intentionally managed to carve out an identity for himself. Some of that was based on his exploits at Gulfstream from the winter of ’67, when he won both the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby. Not entered for the Kentucky Derby, In Reality subsequently finished second to Damascus in the Preakness. In Reality would sire 81 stakes winners.

Inside Information (1991)†
Invasor (Arg) (2002)†
Kauai King (1963)
Kelso (1957)†
Little Mike (2007)
Lure (1989)†
Mi Selecto (1985)

Mr. Prospector (1970)
Though far from the best racehorse to emerge from a magical American foal crop that produced Secretariat, Forego, Dahlia, and Ancient Title – all Racing Hall of Famers – Mr. Prospector himself among the best in the breeding shed. On the track, he was a natural speedball. Mr. Prospector won a non-graded New York stakes, but arguably his most impressive performance came late at age 3 when he recorded an explosive 1:07.80 for six furlongs in a Gulfstream allowance race, setting a track record. The Raise a Native horse went on to become one of the most influential sires, broodmare sires, and sires of sires of all time. The six-furlong Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream honors him to this day.

Mucho Macho Man (2008)
Nashua (1952)†

Needles (1953)†
Named, in part, because he had been a sickly foal – subjected to numerous antibiotic shots – Needles survived his precarious youth to become the first Kentucky Derby winner bred in the Sunshine State. En route to that point, the son of Ponder set a Gulfstream nine-furlong record of 1:48.60 in taking the 1956 Florida Derby, and established a 4 1/2-furlong mark of 52.40 while winning his maiden. Needles reaffirmed his love for Gulfstream’s main surface the following year by tying the dirt standard of 1:42 for 1 1/16 miles. A champion at 2 and 3, Needles would be inducted into the Racing hall of Fame in 2003.

Northern Dancer (1961)†
Old Hat (1959)
Open Mind (1986)†
Paseana (Arg) (1987)†
Proud Truth (1982)

Rampart (1942)
This pitch-black little granddaughter of Man o’ War was tough as nails – she ran 104 times in six seasons, winning 31 – and her sweetest victory came on Jan. 16, 1948, in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. That afternoon, Rampart showcased her grit before a crowd of 15,385, who had backed Calumet’s champion Armed down to 15 cents on the dollar, and who had dismissed her at better than 25-1. Rampart took the lead under Mike Basile and 108 pounds out of the gate and held it to the end of the 1 1/4-mile race. Armed, with 130 pounds up, finished a nose short at the wire. In 1981, the Rampart Handicap was inaugurated in her honor and is still being run today.

Ridan (1959)

Round Table (1954)
In a long and storied career, Round Table competed just twice at Gulfstream, over a nine-day span in March of 1958. He won both races, the Challenge Purse under 128 pounds and the Gulfstream Park Handicap under 130 and at 1-5 odds, setting or equaling a track record each time. A member of the fabled 1954 foal crop that also produced Bold Ruler and Gallant Man (both of whom also raced at Gulfstream), this son of Princequillo would retire with world record earnings of $1,749,869 and a golden ticket to the Racing Hall of Fame.

Royal Delta (2008)
Safely Kept (1986)†
Saint Liam (2000)

Skip Away (1993)†
Arguably the last great American racehorse of the 20th century, Skip Away turned in some impressive performances at Gulfstream. The gray son of Skip Trial started seven times at the oceanside course, winning three, finishing second twice, and third once. The 1998 Gulfstream Park and Donn handicaps were showcase victories, both won in commanding style for trainer “Sonny” Hine and his wife, owner Carolyn Hine. The Florida-bred went on to pick up a Horse of the Year title, banked nearly $10 million in earnings, and was inducted in 2004 into the Racing Hall of Fame. The Skip Away Handicap is run each March at Gulfstream, and annually draws fields of top older runners.

Skip Trial (1982)
Skip Trial was good wherever he went throughout his four-season, 38-race career, but nowhere was he better than at Gulfstream. He made six starts at Gulfstream, winning four and finishing second twice. Two of those victories came in back-to-back renewals of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap in 1986 and 1987. In the latter year, he trounced classic winner Creme Fraiche and champion Snow Chief by 4 1/2 lengths, and in ’86, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Proud Truth was his victim. Skip Trial won the ’87 Fort Lauderdale and Olympic handicaps and twice ran second in the Grade 2 Donn. He would later sire Skip Away.

Sky Beauty (1990)†
Snow Chief (1983)

Spectacular Bid (1976)†
Spectacular Bid could do it all: sprint, stay, carry weight, smash records – and he did it bicoastally, from California to New York to Florida, between 1978 and 1980. Gulfstream Park saw plenty of him in early ’79 as he prepped for the spring classics. Trainer Buddy Delp had Hawksworth Farm’s gray-coated son of Bold Bidder razor-sharp that winter when, over a four-week span, he captured the Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby by a combined 16 3/4 lengths. Spectacular Bid went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and 26 of 30 lifetime starts to rank among the immortals of the American turf. The $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes is run annually at Gulfstream.

Steinlen (GB) (1983)
Sunday Silence (1986)†

Swale (1981)
Swale showed up at Gulfstream early in 1984 loaded for bear. He won the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes from here to there, suffered a minor blip on an otherwise clear radar screen with a close third-place finish in the Fountain of Youth, then bounced back in the Florida Derby. This set him up like the champ he was, primed and ready for an assault on the Triple Crown. Claiborne Farm’s homebred Seattle Slew colt won the Kentucky Derby, and on June 9 added the Belmont Stakes, but eight days later he collapsed and died of an apparent heart malfunction in front of his barn at Belmont.

Swaps (1952)†
Thunder Gulch (1992)
Tim Tam (1955)†
Unbridled (1987)
Unbridled’s Song (1993)