Gulfstream Park's opening weekend, from Friday, January 3, through Sunday, January 5, features five stakes, free grandstand admission, giveaways and rolled-back prices on selected food and drink favorites, weekend appearances by leading thoroughbred trainers, concerts, and more.
Opening Day's racing excitement will be headed by the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes, an early test for Florida Derby hopefuls. Saturday, the $150,000 Appleton Handicap and the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap head the card. The $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap and the $65,000 Dame Mysterieuse Handicap cap the Sunday bill.
"We are presenting five stakes during the first three days of our meeting, the largest number in Gulfstream's history, and have scheduled a greater array of other inducements for our customers than ever as a starter to what we believe will be a great season," said Scott Savin, Gulfstream president and general manager. "Except for the economy, all indicators for Gulfstream 2003 are positive and we are confident Gulfstream's many attractions will overcome the down economy."
Fans can get in on the action with Gulfstream's new Progressive Pick 6 starting Friday. The guaranteed pool is $25,000 on Opening Day. The stakes get higher on Saturday when the guaranteed pool doubles to $50,000, whether or not there's a winner on Friday. And on Sunday it doubles again to $100,000 guaranteed even if someone picks all six winners on each of the days. If no one picks six winners on Sunday, the pool will carry over until someone selects six winners.
Gulfstream also is introducing the Pick 4 which will be offered on the last four races every racing day.
Friday will mark the debut of the "Bettors' Box" that has been built on the second floor of the grandstand. The air conditioned enclosed room will headline handicappers of prominence who will offer their selections on the entire racing card on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Kicking off Saturday with Nick Zito, regarded as one of the best trainers in the country in developing young horses, the "Year of the Trainer" series will honor the sport's top trainers at Gulfstream every Saturday and Sunday through April 13. Fans will have the opportunity to meet the trainers, interact and get their autographs. Trainer John Kimmel will be in the spotlight Sunday.
Gulfstream has commissioned a one of a kind collectible souvenir piece, which features photographs of the trainers on the front with pertinent details and statistics of their careers on the back - just like the baseball trading cards many collected in their youth. Printed on high-quality card stock, the sheets are perforated to allow cards of the individual trainers to be displayed, mounted or laminated. Fans can also choose to keep the sheet intact and return to Gulfstream for each event and collect all 30 trainers' signatures.
Fans will have an opportunity to earn valuable prizes just for wagering on Gulfstream Park's world-class Thoroughbred racing. A bonus of up to three per cent of each dollar wagered on live racing will be returned to those who obtain a free membership in the Gulfstream Advantage Club. A rebate of one per cent is given on every dollar wagered on live racing by Advantage Club members from $1 to $49,999 and increases are on a tiered basis until the three per cent level is attained. Wagers on simulcasting return one half of the bonuses given on live racing. Cash rebates are issued in the form of betting vouchers. Other prizes include a free trip to the Kentucky Derby.
Gulfstream's weekend Concert Series returns. Five-time Grammy Award-winner Michael McDonald, one of the most distinctive pop/R&B voices on the music scene, will launch Gulfstream's 2003 Concert Series on Saturday, January 4, at 2:30 p.m. The following day, Gulfstream welcomes acclaimed rockers Sugar Ray to the Entertainment Stage as continuation of the series of concerts that will run every weekend until Sunday, April 20, featuring entertainers such as Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News, the Beach Boys, Clarence Clemons, America, Sergio Mendes, Air Supply, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Cocker and Chuck Mangione.
Gulfstream will be closed on Monday throughout January except for January 20. The track will offer simulcasting but no live racing on Tuesdays throughout the month. Gulfstream will go to a six-day, Wednesday throughout Monday schedule, starting February 1. Simulcasting only will be offered on Tuesdays. The meeting runs through April 25.