09/01/2017 12:50PM

Purses boosted 30 percent at Gulfstream Park West

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Purses for the upcoming Gulfstream Park West meet will be increased by an average of 30 percent across the board from a year ago, track officials announced on Friday.

Known as the Fall Turf Festival, Gulfstream Park West’s annual two-month fall meeting is held at the old Calder Race Course and opens on Oct. 4.

Gulfstream Park also announced purses will be raised 5 percent through the remainder of the current summer session, which ends on Sept. 30.

The purse increases are the direct result of the summer handle being up 15 percent from a year ago. Gulfstream has been averaging nearly $6 million a day since the summer session opened on July 1.

“We’re very happy to provide these purses increases at both Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West due to the increase in our summer handle,” said P.J. Campo, vice president of racing for the Stronach Group, which operates both meetings, and general manager at Gulfstream Park.

Ralph Nicks, among the first of the major Northern-based trainers to commit to year-round stabling at Gulfstream Park several seasons ago and the leading trainer at the summer meet, said: “This is great news. The purse increases should help maintain the numbers of starters in our races, and is proof of how much year-round racing has grown in south Florida since Gulfstream took over [at Calder].”

Among the prominent horsemen expected to participate during the Gulfstream Park West meet is Todd Pletcher, who is scheduled to send the first wave of his large stable back to his South Florida headquarters at Palm Beach Downs within the next couple of weeks.

The 2017-18 Championship meet at Gulfstream Park begins Dec. 2, with the $1.1 million Claiming Crown the feature on opening day followed one week later by the Clasico del Caribe, which will be held in the U.S. for the first time, and brings together horses from eight Latin American and Caribbean countries.