07/05/2017 12:56PM

Handle continues to grow at spring meet

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Interest in Gulfstream Park’s spring session continues to grow from horsemen and horseplayers alike.

The 2017 spring meeting concluded Friday and for the second straight year showed big gains at the mutuel windows. Handle for the session totaled $312 million, up 13 percent from the $276 million wagered during the corresponding period in 2016. Handle on the inaugural spring meeting here in 2015 was $246 million. The average daily handle has also climbed steadily from $4.2 million in 2015 to a record $5.3 million this past spring.

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The quality of the racing programs has also continued to improve since 2015, as more Northern-based trainers leave horses in south Florida year-round. The most notable trainer to leave horses in south Florida all year is Todd Pletcher, who added the 2017 spring crown to his record 14 consecutive championship meet titles.

Mark Casse and Mike Maker are among the other prominent trainers who continue to leave a string behind at Gulfstream when they return north for the summer.

“We continue building and rejuvenating year-round racing in Florida,” said P.J. Campo, vice president of racing for The Stronach Group and general manager of Gulfstream Park. “We continue to see more horsemen staying year-round in south Florida or leaving horses here year-round. This is helping build a better product while allowing us to field large, competitive fields, and we are excited about this year’s Florida Sire Stakes and the great 2-year-olds we’ll get to see develop here throughout the next three months.”