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,
American Handicap and the Caltech Handicap.
Gulfstream Park Track Facts
- One mile oval comprised of mixture of 85.5% sand and 14.5% clay
- The beneath pad is a 6-12" marl base (50% sand, 50% clay - silt
sized particles) on top of approximately 1-3 feet of road rock. Course
features two chutes (three furlongs and seven furlongs).
- The length of stretch - 952 feet, 2 inches.
- The width of the dirt course is 80 feet.
- Seven furlong oval composed of Tifton 57 Bermuda grass with a base
of approximately 50% sand and 50% clay.
- The length of stretch is 921 feet.
- The width of the turf course is 70 feet.
Stable Capacity: 1,454 stalls.
Hallandale Beach, Florida
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 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
Then in September 1999, Magna Entertainment finalized its purchase of Gulfstream
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.