On the heels of an eventful, entertaining and exceptionally successful Championship Meet, highlighted by the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, and last Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby (G1), the Spring/Summer Meet will get under way Thursday as Gulfstream Park's year-round Thoroughbred racing program continues to flourish.
First-race post time is set for 1 p.m.
Gulfstream, where Audible's three-length victory in the Florida Derby punctuated a meet of extraordinary racing, will conduct 110 days of live action primarily on a Thursday-Sunday schedule through Sept. 30. Special programs will be offered Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day); Wednesday, June 6; Wednesday, July 4 (Independence Day); Wednesday, Aug. 22 and Monday, Sept. 3 (Labor Day).
The Spring/Summer Meet will offer a schedule of 34 stakes worth $4.175 million in purses, headlined by the Summit of Speed Saturday, June 30. The program showcasing top class sprinters will include the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2), a seven-furlong `Breeders' Cup Win and You're In' sprint for fillies and mares; the $250,000 Smile (G3), a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up; the $75,000 Carry Back, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds; the $75,000 Azalea, a seven furlong race for 3-year-old fillies; and the $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint, a five-furlong turf dash.
The lucrative FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-olds by accredited Florida stallions will be renewed on Aug. 4, Sept. 1 and Sept. 29. The $100,000 Dr. Fager and $100,000 Desert Vixen (fillies), both scheduled at six furlongs, will kicked off the popular series Aug. 4. The $200,000 Affirmed and the $200,000 Susan's Girl (fillies), both set for seven furlongs, will be run Sept. 1, followed by the $400,000 In Reality and the $400,000 My Dear Girl (fillies), both to be run at 1 1/16 miles, Sept. 29.
"We're excited and very enthusiastic about the Spring/Summer Meet as we build on our momentum from the Championship Meet," said Gulfstream Park General Manager Bill Badgett. "There's so much going on this season between the Sire Stakes, our 2-year-old program, a rich stakes schedule, our Summer Soirees and 4th of July party. As we continue building our year-round program our fans are seeing a consistent product, more top horsemen keeping year-round stables in South Florida, and bigger fields. We believe the quality and quantity of our Spring/Summer racing meets will be the best in more than decade in Florida."
The first races for 2-year-olds have been scheduled for April 12, when fillies are slated to run 4 ½ furlongs for a purse of $65,000, and April 13, when colts will run for a $65,000 purse at 4 ½ furlongs.
The first running of the $150,000 Wildcat Heir will be offered on the undercard on Sept. 29 Florida Sire Stakes finals program. The FTBOA FSS mile event for 3-year-olds and up is named to honor the memory of the prolific Florida stallion, a Grade 1 winner who passed away earlier this year.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, fresh off winning his 15th consecutive Championship Meet title, will continue to support Gulfstream's year-round program. The seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer captured the 2017 Sprint Meet title with 28 winners. Other trainers stabling in South Florida this summer include Mike Maker, Eddie Plesa Jr., Ralph Nicks and David Fawkes and Antonio Sano.
Tyler Gaffalione, who enjoyed a highly successful Championship Meet while finishing third with 87 trips to the winner's circle, will also defend his Spring Meet title. Gaffalione rode 98 winners to win the title last year. The jockey colony will also include Nik Juarez, Edgard Zayas and Emisael Jaramillo.
Pletcher and Gaffalione will team up for Thursday's featured seventh race, a $47,000 optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares at a mile. Pletcher will send out Stonestreet Stables' Bernadetta, who won at first asking at Gulfstream July 2 while defeating Blonde Bomber, who went on to finish third in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). A homebred 3-year-old daughter of Bernardini was winless in three starts during the Championship Meet. My Favorite Gift, who returns to dirt after a pair of respectable showings in graded turf stakes, looms as the horse to beat.