Gulfstream Park announced a record $10.75 million stakes program for its 2013-14 meet that consists of 61 stakes–34 graded–and is highlighted by the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29.
The Hallandale Beach, Fla., racetrack announced purse increases for 10 existing stakes during the meet that begins Nov. 30.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, with the Gulfstream Park Derby, there will be nine stakes for 3-year-olds during the meet. The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, captured last year by eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Orb , has produced 22 Kentucky Derby champions, 19 Preakness victors, and 16 Belmont winners.
The Florida Derby program will offer seven other stakes, including the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies; the $200,000 Pan American (gr. IIT) on the turf for older horses; the $150,000 Rampart (gr. III) for fillies and mares; and the $100,000 Skip Away (gr. III) for older horses.
Gulfstream's two other grade I events, the $500,000 Donn Handicap for older horses at 1 1/8 miles and the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, will be co-featured on the Feb. 8 program.
The meet marks the 75th anniversary of Gulfstream and will include a celebration Feb. 1, the day Gulfstream first opened for Thoroughbred racing in 1939.
"We are very excited about our champion's meet this coming winter," Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo said in a release. "Our record stakes schedule once again shows our commitment to Thoroughbred racing as well as horsemen throughout North America. Our great fans continue to see champions developed every day at Gulfstream Park. More than a third of our Florida Derby winners have now gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.
"Our schedule this winter will provide horsemen and fans with world-class racing while we continue showcasing our stunning facility during the Eclipse Awards, Florida Sunshine Millions, Florida Derby, and throughout our 75th anniversary."
The 15th edition of the Claiming Crown will return to Gulfstream Dec. 7 with eight races scheduled to be contested for a total of $1 million.
The 12th edition of the Florida Sunshine Millions will be Jan. 18 with horses bred in Florida contesting six stakes worth a total of $1.3 million. The $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles for older horses will be showcased on a program that will include the $300,000 Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares; the $150,000 Sprint for older horses and the $150,000 Filly & Mare Sprint, both at six furlongs; as well as the $150,000 Turf for older horses and the $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf, both at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
The Sunshine Millions will serve as a precursor to the evening's 43rd Eclipse Awards, to be held for the second consecutive year in Gulfstream's Sport of Kings Theater.