This past weekend's Gulfstream's Opening Day program featured only one more race than last year's, yet it brought in $10.118 million — up 0.57 percent from last season. This despite a weekend drenched in storms that made the track rainy and sloppy, forcing four races off the turf on Saturday.
This year's Gulfstream's Opening Day program, which featured 11 races compared to ten in 2014, was highlighted by a $1.1 Million Claiming Crown, Champion jockey Javier Castellano attempting to win his fifth consecutive riding title, and trainer Todd Pletcher attempting to win an unprecedented 13th consecutive training title.
So, despite the rainy conditions, race lovers came in droves. And Gulfstream believes that had conditions been better, the turnout would have been even stronger.
“We're extremely pleased with the success of Saturday's Claiming Crown,” said P.J. Campo, general manager of Gulfstream Park and vice president of racing for the Stronach Group. “We had big fields and tremendous participation from horsemen throughout North America. We're confident the numbers would have been even more impressive with a fast track and firm turf course."
The event brought in full fields with 121 total entries from throughout the East Coast and Midwest, with the weekend kicking off with the $1.1 million Claiming Crown.
The 77th season of championship racing at Gulfstream Park featuring a record 73 stakes and $11.61 million in purses, and many of the country's top classic contenders and turf stars are scheduled to race through April. Some of the nation's top riders, including Castellano, the only jockey to have beaten triple-crown winner American Pharaoh this year, will be featured this season, along with John Velazquez, Julien Leparoux, Irad Ortiz Jr., Paco Lopez. Joel Rosario, Jose Lezcano and Edgar Prado.
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Moreover, Bill Mott, Chad Brown, Kiaran McLaughlin, Graham Motion, Eddie Plesa Jr., Nick Zito, Shug McGaughey and Christophe Clement join Pletcher as top-notch trainers that will have horses gunning for titles in the new season.
Castellano, meanwhile, kicked things off by dominating the day by riding four winners among the 11 races. The 38-year-old Venezuelan jockey now leads the nation in wins, money earned, and is the leader in stakes wins with 64, and graded-stakes wins with 45.
With all the rain and slop, it would appear that Gulfstream's season is off to a spectacular start, with much more for race lovers to look forward to in much better weather.
“We look forward to the months ahead during our Championship Meet,” says Campo.