Back in the 16th Century, when the Hapsburgs ruled most of Europe and got pretty much whatever they wanted, Archduke Maximilian, brother to Holy Roman Emperor Charles II, decided to breed Spanish horses in Austria. Critics said he didn't know what he was talking about. The Arabian and Andalusian horses of Spain, they said, would not adjust to the harsher climate of Austria.
But Archduke Maximilian, later to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor himself, was never one to listen to people who didn't know what they were talking about. He opened a stud farm in the hills of Karst, near the village of Lipizza. Amazingly the horses thrived in the rugged country, over time gaining endurance, strength, and speed. Soon Lipizzaner stallions were among the finest horseflesh in Europe.
Today, a little more than 425 years later, all this noble heritage is easy to see: The horses hold their heads high, canter gracefully, and have an intelligent gleam in their eyes. The Lipizzaner stallions put on an impressive performance, including waltzlike trots and amazing acrobatic leaps. This year, the 31st anniversary of the Lipizzaner stallions' touring show, new music, choreography, and routines, emphasize the breed's long history.
But well-trained horses aren't the only things featured at Gulfstream Park this Sunday. In fact it's the kickoff of the park's Sunday Family Day. Festivities last from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and include not only the show by the Lipizzaner stallions but also a performance by three up-and-coming teen groups.
Dream, a teen girl group incongruously signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' Bad Boy label, will do their thing, including performing their hit single, "He Loves U Not." They will be followed by Boyz-N-Girlz, who are preparing to open for Britney Spears on her next worldwide concert tour. These two groups have yet to release debut albums, so if you plan on seeing them, do it now, before tickets to their concerts cost ten times more than Gulfstream Park's admission price ($5). Innosense will close the hour-and-a-half set of bubble-gum pop, most likely with a rendition of "So Together," a track off the girl group's debut album of the same name.
The day will also include an inflatable airplane, a 20-foot-long games trailer, an eight-horse merry-go-round, pony rides, and a petting zoo. And no, the pony rides do not include the Lipizzaner stallions.