12/02/2002 1:00AM

Palm Meadows open


BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Palm Meadows, Magna Entertainment Corporation's state-of-the-art training center here, opened as scheduled last Friday. The first horses trained over the 1 1/8-mile track Monday morning.

Construction on the site, located 47 miles from Gulfstream Park, did not begin until June and crews worked from sunup to sundown, seven days a week to enable Palm Meadows to open on schedule. There will be 24 barns available with stall space to accommodate 768 horses during the inaugural season.

"We cut it right to the end but everything inside the stable area is ready," said Gary Van den Broek, Palm Meadows's general manager. "We still have some sod to put down and some landscaping to do, but the major construction is over and there won't be any more until after the Gulfstream meeting ends."

The additional stall space at Palm Meadows is expected to provide a major boost to Gulfstream Park's entries, which suffered from the closing of the Hialeah barn area during the 2002 meeting. The 2003 Gulfstream meet runs from Jan. 3 through April 25.

When completed, Palm Meadows will provide stall space for 1,400 horses and will offer a seven-furlong turf course and European-style jogging path. There will also be housing accommodations for more than 300 grooms and hotwalkers.

Stable personnel will be bused from the training site to a motel located near downtown Boynton Beach during the current season.

Less than 50 horses were on the grounds when the track opened for business Monday, although many stables were expected to ship in before the end of the week.

Maybry's Boy had the distinction of being the first horse to gallop over the new track. The 3-year-old Maybry's Boy won Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes on opening day of the 2002 meet. He is trained by Todd Pletcher's former assistant George Weaver, who took out his own trainer's license earlier this fall.

"Palm Meadows is a beautiful facility," said Weaver. "The barns are great and the track is in excellent shape."