Gulfstream Park's commitment to Thoroughbred racing, its legacy of giving back and its dedication to enhancing the fans' experience continued in 2012-13.
Gulfstream became the first racetrack in 42 years to host the prestigious Eclipse Awards on January 19, 2013. As part of Eclipse Award Week, Gulfstream helped to raise more than $120,000 through various events for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, Gulfstream Thoroughbred Aftercare Program and The Race for Education.
On December 1, 2012, Gulfstream opened for its winter meet by hosting for the first time the 14th Claiming Crown. Gulfstream set records for total handle ($12.2 million) and on-track handle ($1.44 million, up 84 percent over previous year) in its state-of-the-art facility and also set records for handle on the Claiming Crown.
Gulfstream continued enhancing its facility for the 2012-2013 season and building on the vision of Mr. Stronach with more than $1 million in customer-friendly improvements, including a new 25-table restaurant overlooking the walking ring, new barn roofs, and 32 box suites overlooking the finish line.
Gulfstream and its satellite training facility, Palm Meadows, continue to host champions and stars on the training track and racetrack. In 2012-2013, champions who trained at the two facilities included Eclipse Award winners Shanghai Bobby, Royal Delta, Groupie Doll, Trinniberg, and Zagora. Other 2012-2013 alumni included Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, 2012 Arlington Million and Breeder' Cup Turf winner Little Mike, 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and Grade I winners Point of Entry, Tapitsfly, Shackleford, Graydar, Grace Hall, Animal Kingdom, Hansen, and Ultimate Eagle.
The exciting competition on-track, fueled by large, competitive fields and low takeouts continue to drive record business at Gulfstream's facility. One of the most innovative wagers in pari-mutuel history, the 10-cent Rainbow 6, has resulted in life-changing payoffs and carryovers as high as $5.1 million.
Gulfstream, celebrating its 70th season in 2012-2013, ushered in a new era in racing January 4, 2006, by unveiling its newly constructed clubhouse as part of a $171.5 million renovation that began with the razing of its old grandstand and clubhouse shortly after the 2004 meet. In addition to the clubhouse, the racing surfaces underwent reconstruction.
Completed in time for the 2005 meet, the main track was elongated from a mile to a mile and one-eighth and the turf course was widened from 80 feet to 170 feet while remaining seven furlongs in circumference. The building was designed to house two restaurants, two casinos, a poker room and a 500-seat theater Sport of Kings, home of the 2013 Eclipse Awards. The walking ring, which includes lighted fountains surrounded by more than 600 seats and set under both of the restaurants, is the most dramatic in the nation.
On February 11, 2010, the ribbon was cut on the new Village at Gulfstream Park, a multi-use retail and entertainment center connected to the walking ring and racetrack through a series of walkways, balconies and staircases. The state of the art, open-air mall, owned by The Stronach Group, met with rave reviews from local Hallandale residents and tourists from around the world. The facility attracts millions of new people, many whom otherwise might never visit a racetrack.
Gulfstream continued to buck industry trends in 2012 and 2013 with increases in on-track handle and total handle. Along with the 10-cent Rainbow 6, Gulfstream continued to lead the way in unique wagering opportunities with guaranteed pools each Saturday of $200,000 on the Late Pick 4 and $100,000 on the Pick 5.
While Gulfstream's reputation as a nursery for budding talent grows every year – 41 Florida Derby starters have gone on to win a remarkable 56 Triple Crown events – Gulfstream continues to play a major role in the community. The Saturday morning Breakfast at Gulfstream is a favorite with fans, especially families. Gulfstream proudly played host to LIVELONG benefitting LIVESTRONG for the second consecutive year and welcomed more than 15,000 people to a free 4th of July celebration. Gulfstream also continued participating in a highly successful grooms program and partnered with Gulfstream Middle School for its first Florida Derby Art Contest.
Chairman Frank Stronach's commitment to the retraining and rehabilitation of retired Thoroughbreds continues with several programs designed to raise money throughout the year for Gulfstream's Thoroughbred Aftercare Program. Mr. Stronach was recognized as a leader in equine retirement with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's inaugural Earle Mack Champions' Award, as well as the Volterra Award from Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement.