When the 50th Florida Derby (gr. I) is run at Gulfstream Park next March 10, the Triple Crown prep will have a purse of $1-million, making it the first non-Breeders' Cup race in the Sunshine State to reach the seven-figure level. The 2001 purse reflects a $250,000 increase over the $750,000 purse this year when the race was won by Hal's Hope.
"The increase of the Florida Derby purse is commensurate with its stature nationally and an appropriate way to celebrate its 50th anniversary," said Gulfstream president David Romanik.
Serving as preps at Gulfstream for the Florida Derby will be four graded stakes for Triple Crown aspirants--the $100,000 Spectacular Bid (gr. III) on Jan. 3, the $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) on Jan. 20, the $150,000 Hutcheson (gr. II) on Jan. 27, and the $200,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. I) on Feb. 17.
When first contested in 1952, the Florida Derby had a purse of $20,000-added. In 1953, it became Florida's first six-figure race when the purse was boosted to $100,000. The race has been contested by 18 Kentucky Derby winners, 17 Preakness winners, and 13 winners of the Belmont Stakes.