Gulfstream Park is one of North America's most prominent horse racing sites. It is a two-track thoroughbred racing facility located in Hallandale, Florida. It hosts some of Florida's most prestigious racing stakes, including the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Florida Derby, Donn Handicap, Skip Away Handicap, Pan American Handicap and the Caltech Handicap.
Gulfstream Park Track Facts
Stable Capacity: 1,454 stalls.
Gulfstream Park History
Gulfstream Park's first racing season was held in 1939. A bigger-than-expected crowd of 18,000 attended the first day of the meet on February 1. A mutuel handle of $224,287 went through the windows. However, the auspicious start proved to be short-lived as not enough was generated in the next three days. After the fourth day, the owners shuttered the track due to a shortage of funds.
Gulfstream Park was dark for the next four years. James Donn Sr., one of the creditors left unpaid when Gulfstream Park closed, stepped in and took over the reins.
The dormant track ran a 20-day race meeting in 1944 with an average attendance of 4,534 and an average handle of $281,902. James Donn Sr. saw a glimmer of hope for Gulfstream Park.
In the ensuing years, Donn Sr. implemented a large-scale improvements program.
During the early years, the Gulfstream Park Handicap was launched, additional
barns were constructed and an administration building was erected. In 1952,
the Florida Derby was inaugurated and a clubhouse was built.
In the succeeding years, the Florida Derby, became a Grade 1 classic, and attained the $1 million purse status. Three years later, the track presented the inaugural running of the Donn Handicap. It is now recognized as one of the nation's most prestigious events for older horses.
In 1959, Gulfstream Park unveiled its acclaimed turf course. Horsemen and jockeys were quick to laud the verdant infield oval.
Gulfstream Park continued its upward climb toward becoming a world-class racing and entertainment facility throughout the three decades that three generations of Donns served as track President.
As a testament to its stature in the North American horse racing world, Gulfstream Park hosted the 1989, 1992 and 1999 editions of the Breeders' Cup.
In 1990, the famed Bill Shoemaker rode the last winner of his brilliant career, Beau Genius, in that year's Hallandale Handicap.
Gulfstream Park underwent several changes in ownership in the 1990s. It was purchased by Bertram and Diana Firestone in 1990. The following year, Gulfstream was acquired by Gulfstream Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Orient Corporation (USA).
Then in September 1999, Magna Entertainment finalized its purchase of Gulfstream Park.
Gulfstream Park has been the site of some of racing's most memorable feats. One hundred sixty national thoroughbred champions have competed at the track. And more are expected to be part of the track's illustrious history in the years to come.