Edited press release
Trainers Eddie Plesa Jr. and Billy Croll took their customary position at the head of the line the morning of Nov. 10 as the horse vans rolled in and Gulfstream Park’s stable gates swung open in anticipation of the 2009 meeting.
Gulfstream Park will be celebrating its 70th birthday when its live meet opens Jan. 3.
“All systems are ‘go’” for a fantastic meet in 2009,” said Gulfstream president and general manager Bill Murphy.
Plesa and Croll are the sons of horsemen and for more than 50 years their family names have been associated with some of the best the sport has to offer.
Plesa, annually among the leading trainers at Gulfstream Park, won the first running of the Sunshine Millions Classic--the $1 million centerpiece to the $3.6 million Sunshine Millions races--at Gulfstream with Bea Oxenberg’s Best of the Rest in 2003.
Croll’s Nov. 10 arrival provided a bittersweet moment. While comfortable to be out of New Jersey’s mid-autumn chill, this will be the first Gulfstream meeting he will experience without his father, Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Croll, who passed away at age 88 in June.
The elder Croll trained several of the nation’s top horses, three of whom have had stakes races named for them at Gulfstream Park: Forward Gal, Mr. Prospector, and Holy Bull.
Both the Plesa and Croll barns expressed confidence that their good showings in New Jersey over the summer and fall will lead to frequent paydays during Gulfstream Park’s 79-day meet, which concludes April 23.
Croll won eight races at Monmouth and the Meadowlands, a challenging feat with only five horses. He brought three to Gulfstream Nov. 10.
With a larger stable, Plesa won 26 races in New Jersey. His assistant, Frank Perez, said the stable would have 20 horses on the grounds by the end of the day, with more coming the next few days.
Gulfstream Park racing secretary Doug Bredar expects the stable areas at Gulfstream Park (which has stalls for 1,026 horses) and at Palm Meadows (which has room for 1,426) to be operating at full capacity this winter.