$1 Million Florida Derby (G1) Highlights $2.45 Million April 1 Program Gulfstream’s Signature Race Tops Impressive List of 39 Graded Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 66th running of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) will be celebrated April 1 at Gulfstream Park, highlighting a record $12.615 million stakes schedule announced Thursday for the 2016-2017 Championship Meet.
The inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and its supporting stakes, the $400,000 Poseidon have been scheduled for Jan. 28, boosting the total disbursement of stakes purses for the prestigious Dec. 3, 1016 – April 1, 2017 meet to more than $25 million. The world’s richest race replaces the Donn Handicap (G1) on the schedule.
The Florida Derby, won last season by Nyquist as a stepping stone to victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1), tops an impressive list of 39 graded stakes slated for the Championship Meet, during which a total of 93 stakes have been scheduled.
The Florida Derby, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-old that has produced the winners of 58 Triple Crown events, headlines a program with nine stakes, including six graded stakes, worth a total of $2.45 million in purses. The $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, the $300,000 Honey Fox (G2) for fillies and mares at a mile on turf, and the $200,000 Pan American (G2) for older horses at mile on turf, highlight the Derby undercard that includes $200,000 Appleton (G3) for older horses at 1 ½ miles on turf , the $200,000 Orchid (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on turf, and the $100,000 Sir Shackleton, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses, as well as the $100,000 Cutler Bay and the $100,000 Sanibel Island, mile turf races for 3-year-olds and 3-year-old fillies, respectively.
"Obviously, there's great anticipation and excitement building for the upcoming Championship Meet," said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park. "From opening weekend with the Claiming Crown, to the historic first running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, through closing weekend with the 66th running of the Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park will be the epicenter of the racing world. The commitment of The Stronach Group to Thoroughbred racing is evident in our record stakes schedule and the innovative and unique Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Our racing program, supported by horsemen and fans throughout the world, coupled with events like the Eclipse Awards and Fasig-Tipton March Sale, will help us continue to grow Thoroughbred racing. We can't wait for the Championship Meet."
The Florida Derby is the centerpiece of Gulfstream’s extensive program for 3-year-olds during the Championship Meet. The one-mile $100,000 Mucho Macho Man stakes kicks off the 2017 sophomore campaign Jan. 7 on a five-stakes program that includes the six-furlong $100,000 Hutcheson (G3) and $100,000 Dania Beach for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Old Hat (G3) for 3-year-old fillies.
The $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) and the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), both slated for 1 1/16 miles, will once again serve as major preps for the Florida Derby and Triple Crown. The Holy Bull tops a Feb. 4 program with five-stakes for 3-year-olds, including the $200,000 Swale (G2), a seven-furlong sprint, the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2), a seven-furlong sprint for fillies, the $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3), a mile turf race for fillies, and the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy, a mile turf stakes.
The Fountain of Youth anchors a March 4 program with nine stakes, including eight graded. The $200,000 Davona Dale (G2), a mile stakes for sophomore fillies, the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2), a 1 3/8-mile turf race for older horses, will be supporting stakes to the Fountain of Youth. The $150,000 The Very One (G3), a 1 3/8-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares, the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), a mile turf race for older horses, the $100,000 Palm Beach, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, the $100,000 Herecomesthebride (G3), a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the $100,000 Fred Hooper (G3), a mile race for older horse on the main track, and the $100,000 Sand Springs, a mile turf race for older females, round out a sensational day of stakes action in preparation for Florida Derby Day.
The Pegasus World Cup Invitational and Poseidon, both run at 1 1/8-miles on the main track for 3-year-olds and up, will be featured among seven stakes worth $13 million in purses on Jan. 28. Supporting stakes will include the $200,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3) and the $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3), a pair of 1 ½-mile turf events that have each received a $100,000 purse increase, as well as the $100,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3), a six-furlong sprint for older females that returns after a one-year hiatus.
The historic $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), a mile race for older horses on the main track, and the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1), a 1 1/8-mile turf race for older horses, will co-headline a Feb. 11 program that will also features the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf race for older females.
The 15th edition of the Sunshine Millions will offer five stakes for Florida-bred horses Jan. 21, when Gulfstream Park will host the Eclipse Awards for the fifth consecutive year in the Sport of Kings Theater that evening.
The $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic will be supported by the Distaff, Turf, Fillies and Mares Turf and Sprint, each of which received a $50,000 boost to $150,000.
Older fillies and mares will take center stage in the $200,000 Royal Delta (G2), a 1 1/16-mile stakes scheduled for Feb. 18, and the $200,000 Inside Information (G2), a seven-furlong sprint set for March 18.
A trio of graded stakes will grace the Jan. 14 program, including the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for older horses, the $150,000 Marshua’s River (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for older fillies, and the $150,000 Hal’s Hope (G3), a mile event for older horses on the main track.
The 18th edition of the $1.16 million Claiming Crown, which has been revitalized since moving to Gulfstream in 2012, will kick off the Championship Meet Dec. 3 with nine stakes for horses that have run for claiming tags at least once. The $200,000 Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or less, will be supported by a pair of $125,000 races and six $110,000 races available to a wide range of current or former claimers. A 12-race program of starter stakes has been scheduled for Feb. 20 with purses ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 for qualifying horses that raced for claiming prices from $12,000 to $35,000.