January 31, 2011

The Derby Trail Starts Here

all photos, Bob Mayberger (Eclipse Sportswire)
     Take it or leave it, Gulfstream Park will be one of the best places to see the best thoroughbreds in the country run throughout the Spring.  With the Florida Derby considered by many as the top prep race for the Kentucky Derby and with other top-level graded stakes competition, the redesigned 1 1/8-mile track in Hallandale Beach in South Florida will be a destination for many fans.
     There were those who decried the new layout when Magna Entertainment retooled everything about the track in 2004 to make way for slot machines.  They thought the emphasis had been misplaced on gaming machines, racing had been forgotten and the whole complex had been turned into a racino. Some of those murmurs still exist. To those who visit, the track which turns 71-years-old tomorrow, is picturesque and a great place to watch and wager on the best horses.
     Next Saturday, Gulfstream will feature three graded stakes races on Saturday, including the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. The following Saturday will showcase four graded stakes races, including the Fountain of Youth, a major Kentucky Derby prep race.
     So, as ice and snow and sleet pummel the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, maybe Gulfstream Park isn't such a bad idea. With a current temperature of 74-degrees and a 10-day forecast that contains daytime highs in the mid 70s and no overnight lows that creep below 60-degrees, Hallandale Beach seems downright inviting.

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