Being a good horse trainer requires a "gift from God," says Ronnie Gurfein, a recent inductee into the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Horse trainers use similar techniques, Gurfein declares in a booming New York accent, but the drafting of young horses — much like the drafting of NBA or NFL talent — is the most important factor. Gurfein, who has approximately 750 career wins and total earnings of around $25 million, gets a certain feeling about certain horses. That's how he ended up with Possess the Magic, a brown trotting filly who now holds the record for the fastest 2-year-old trotter ever. Last year, she ran a 1:54.2 mile — for laymen, that means she ran a mile in a minute and 54.2 seconds — and won $700,000. Gurfein trains Possess the Magic and 32 other horses at his Delray Beach stables, where he's spent his winters since 1965. Over the summer, he heads back north to New York, along with more than 100 other transient trainers hoping for a gift from God.
Urban legend has it that the peacocks of Rose Drive are a legacy, but about half of the neighbors would rather use the term infestation. Allegedly, a rich eccentric once lived in the street's largest house — it's the one resembling a cross between a castle and a compound. The decrepit man loved peacocks so much that he raised a family of them as pets. Today, they sit like grandiose weathervanes on houses. They wrap their claws around the uppermost branches of the banyan trees. They even stand above the grills of cars, mimicking gargantuan hood ornaments. Rose Drive, meanwhile, is divided into peacock-friendly and peacock-loathing homes. The birds know this too. They spend most of their time on the properties that feed them and nurture their shade-bathing, but sometimes they can't help themselves and go straight to the off-limits areas. That's when you see (otherwise normal-looking) individuals go ballistic with garden hoses and fist shaking. You see, peacocks are extremely loud, and during mating season, well, let's just say they aren't the most thoughtful neighbors. But since you don't have to deal with the 3 a.m. squawking sessions, take a stroll down Rose (bring a bag of birdseed), and enjoy the peacocks for what they are: some of Fort Lauderdale's most beautifully unnoticed oddities.
Almost entirely composed of Mai Kai ex-pats, the hip-shaking, fire-juggling temptresses of O'Tahiti Teie are a spectacle of rhythmic tradition. When the women initially founded the Tahitian dance company, their goal was to be as much a Tiki-party staple as rum and pineapples. It worked. Soon word spread around town and the gals were being asked to jostle their grass skirts nightly at different private and corporate gigs. They expected the crowds to be hypnotized. They predicted the men would drool. But they were caught off-guard when women started calling not for performances, but for lessons. Now equal parts school and troupe, O'Tahiti Teie helps soccer moms and tycoons alike reclaim their misplaced sensuality through this exotic form of dance. But they learn more than simply how to flail previously immobile parts of their anatomies — they discover the traditions and folklore surrounding each movement, allowing them to narrate ancient tales through dance. (And besides, it does wonders for the abs.) For performances or lessons, call Maire.
Titillated by the possibility of electric shock? Does your libido kick into overdrive when you hear the word mummification? Do you have a good sense of humor and the ability to remember a "release word"? Well, you might be eligible for one of Broward's best social groups: the Fort Lauderdale Bondage Club. Gay men 18 and older are learning the ropes and having a scream at the FLBC's monthly how-to events. What's that? You don't know a clothespin clamp from a flogging cane? No problem! That's what makes this club great: There's no room for snobbery. (How condescending can a guy really be when he's telling everyone about his preference to be nipple-clamped with jumper cables?) Besides, by cornering the market with events like Broward's only big White Party affair of Ô06 and a Christmas party called "Season's Beatings," the boys of bondage have shown that while they love being tied up, they aren't uptight.
Channeling stress is key to a happy, healthy existence. For the limber, that's done by posing in the plow at yoga class. For foodies, it's preparing intricate meals. But for the trigger-happy, well, happiness is a warm gun. For them, mecca is known as E.W. Revere Gunshop and Range. What sets E.W.'s apart: inexpensive gun rentals. Just come inside and pick out your targets — paper perps range from the traditional silhouette of a generic male to a caught-in-the-act villain holding a hostage — and then select a weapon. Gun rentals are $7, and shooting lane fees are $9. Bring ammo (and save some pennies) or buy it there. The 50-foot indoor air-conditioned range is for pistols and .22 rifles only, but E.W.'s also offers gunsmithing and concealed permit courses. And you can fire before you acquire — if you like the rentals, E.W.'s also sells guns.
Flamingo Gardens
So many South Floridians are scared to venture west. University Boulevard may as well be the Everglades to them, and names like Nob Hill and Hiatus sound like faraway, mythical realms. When out-of-town visitors come calling, by all means take them to the beach. But then take them to a place where some wild things roam. Precariously poised at the very edge of civilization, the 60-acre botanical garden gives guests an eye-popping extravaganza of bromeliads, African violets, calatheas, and orchids — often for sale. If flowers aren't your thing, Flamingo Gardens has critters too. Not just wading birds and their precocious chicks but also bald eagles, bobcats, gators, butterflies, hummingbirds, and otters. This is also your only sure-fire opportunity to spot the elusive Florida panther, where the endangered cats slink around behind a glass enclosure, safe from the speeding vehicles that have decimated their numbers. It's kinda touristy and contrived, but it's completely free of silicone and coconut-flavored rum, which, by our yardstick, is certainly in its favor.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
Cristian Costea
At Hollywood's Hard Rock, the pool bar is not poolside — it's pool-middle, at the center of the swimming hole. But there's more here than just chlorine and tap water. There's sand too. Think of it as Hollywood Beach Inland. And no, you don't need to be a registered guest to dip your feet in. If the nearby slot machines don't tempt you out of the water, there's a rock mountain surrounding the lagoon-like pool that's worth scaling to get on the waterslide. Or take a soak in one of several hot tubs. The Hard Rock promotes its plunge as a good place to spot celebrities, but after Anna Nicole Smith's demise, all we saw on a recent visit were celebrity stalkers, including a dubious guy wearing socks under his Birkenstocks. But never mind gawkers like him — it's the cool water that will come in handy when the weather gets hot.
Holiday Lanes Bowling Center
Just before 10 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday, the lights over Holiday Bowling Center's 16 lanes go dim and projection screens descend from the ceiling. If it's Thursday, expect videos from a barrage of indie-rock bands — or at least erstwhile indie rockers who've since landed big record deals, like Modest Mouse. If it's Friday or Saturday night, the projection screens show hip-hop videos, and the alley's new owners flaunt the souped-up bass of their new sound system. The cacophony of falling pins adds an extra — and surprisingly harmonious — instrument to the music.
Seminole Casino of Hollywood
In the poker world, they're referred to as "the fish," and it basically means they're easy money. We're talking about those hoary folks who sit at poker tables all day, betting on every whim and giving up their retirement funds to the savvy 20-somethings who fold ace/king suited if the flop doesn't mesh. You find these suckas at the Seminole Casino — no, not the Seminole Hard Rock Casino — just the regular Seminole Casino, which happens to be right next door to the Hard Rock on State Road 7. The fish might have been attracted to the Lightning Bingo, one of the casino's original games that brags a winner every 30 seconds, or maybe it was the 850 gleaming slot machines including Vegas' "Little Green Men" and "Texas Tea." There's also the claim that the Seminole Casino of Hollywood paid out the highest Florida jackpot of all time — a cool $1.75 mil, although nobody is allowed to say when. Of course, the Seminole Casino doesn't have the same pizzazz as its famous neighbor, but for serious poker players, that just means no wait for one of the 29 tables. Another bonus: The hungry ghost of Anna Nicole Smith won't grab fried chicken off your plate.
Tree Tops Park
The highest elevation in Broward County is a whopping 29 feet above sea level, and it happens to be an important archeological site. These days, it's called the Pine Island Ridge, a massive live oak hammock that'll have you feeling oh-so-Hobbity. Since Tree Tops Park is located in Davie, you'll see plenty of horses here, but there's a lot to do on foot, especially if you stroll around the boardwalks, which cut through a marsh that's home to fish and odd-looking waterfowl. Mountain-bike riders can get lost in the trails that wind back in the shadowy woods, and canoes can ply the waters. But the big draw is the network of equestrian trails that lead horses to the top of the ridge — where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to... Plantation!

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