2012 Gulfstream Park Winter Meet

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV - Nothing says winter in the horse racing world like the opening day at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. That day is this Saturday, December 1 - the launch of a 61 race stakes program! The highlight of Opening Weekend is the start of the 14th running of the $850,000 Claiming Crown, a program of seven races for horses that have competed at least once in claiming races. Gulfstream Park gets the Claiming Crown for the first time and it kicks off opening weekend, Saturday, Dec. 1, Day 1 of the 90-date meeting that will run through April 5. More than 200 trainers have descended on Gulfstream for the Claiming Crown.

Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park

The Claiming Crown provides lower-priced horses to compete for big bucks. The $100,000 Iron Horse (1 1/16 miles) and $100,000 Express (6 furlongs) will be open to horses that have started for a claiming price of $7,500 or lower. Horses that have raced for a $16,000 claiming tag or lower are eligible for a pair of $100,000 seven-furlong stakes, the Glass Slipper (fillies and mares) and the $100,000 Rapid Transit. A pair of $125,000 1 1/16-mile turf races - the Tiara (fillies and mares) and the Emerald - are open to horses that carried claiming prices of $25,000 or lower. The Claiming Crown is just a start.

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Florida Derby highlights Gulfstream Meet

The highlight of the Winter Meet is unquestionably the 62nd running of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday, March 30. The 1 1/8th-mile Derby will be one of seven stakes races - six of them graded - contested on March 30 with total stakes purses of $1.875 million. Other races on Florida Derby Day include the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), $150,000 Rampart (G3), $150,000 Orchid (G3), $100,000 Skip Away (G3) and $100,000 Appleton (G3).

The $400,000 Holy Bull (G3), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16th miles, and the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2), for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, will both be contested on Saturday, Jan. 26. The $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), contested at 1 1/16th miles, will be one of three graded stakes races Feb. 23 along with the $250,000 Davona Dale (G2) at 1 1/16th miles for 3-year-old fillies and the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at a mile.

The 55th running of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) will headline four graded stakes on Feb. 9 for older horses. The three other stakes will be the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) and the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), both at 1 1/8th mile on the turf, and the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G2) at seven furlongs.

The weekend of March 2-3 will feature three graded stakes for 3-year-olds: the $150,000 Swale (G3) at seven furlongs, the $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) at 1 1/8th miles on the turf, and the $100,000 Herecomesthebride (G3) for fillies at 1 1/8th miles on the turf.

Every weekend will bring some sort of intrigue during Gulfstream's Winter Meet, on and off the track with the announcement that this year's Eclipse Awards will take place January 19 during part of Florida Sunshine Millions Weekend at Gulfstream. Stay tuned to OffTrackBetting for previews for all of the relevant races this winter at Gulfstream and updated news of all the happenings in the world of graded stakes racing action all around the country.

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