Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino announced it will offer 61 stakes (33 graded) worth more than $10.1 million during its 2012-2013 Thoroughbred race meet, which is highlighted by the 62nd running of the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 30.
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will be one of seven stakes−six of which are graded−contested that day with total stakes purses of $1.875 million. Other stakes on Florida Derby Day include the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II), $150,000 Rampart (gr. III), $150,000 Orchid (gr. IIIT), $100,000 Skip Away (gr. III) and $100,000 Appleton (gr. IIIT).
Gulfstream's 90-day meet will kick off Saturday, Dec. 1, with the 14th running of the Claiming Crown, an $850,000 seven-stakes event "designed to recognize and celebrate the sport's most enduring and competitive claiming horses," according to Gulfstream's release.
Along with Florida Derby Day, highlights of the 2012-13 schedule include:
--The $400,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II), one of three graded stakes Feb. 23, along with the $250,000 Davona Dale (gr. II) and the $150,000 Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT).
--The $400,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) and the $200,000 Forward Gal (gr. II), both Saturday, Jan. 26.
--The Florida Sunshine Millions, historically run the last weekend in January, will be run Saturday, Jan. 19, and will serve as a prelude to the 42nd annual Eclipse Awards, capping off a week of fund-raising activities for Thoroughbred retirement and aftercare.
--The 55th running of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) will headline four graded stakes for older horses on Feb. 9. The three other stakes will be the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT), $150,000 Suwannee River (gr. IIIT), and the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (gr. II).
--The inaugural running of the Sophomore Soiree, contested New Year's Day, will feature four stakes for 3-year-olds, including the second running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby and $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (gr. III).
--The weekend of March 2-3 will feature three graded stakes: $150,000 Swale (gr. III), $150,000 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT), and the $100,000 Herecomesthebride (gr. IIIT).
--The inaugural running of the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Stallion Stakes, for progeny of stallions whose fees are donated to an on-line auction to benefit retired Thoroughbred horses, will be run closing day, April 5.
"We believe the stakes schedule for the 2012-13 meeting is the most varied and valuable we have ever offered," said Gulfstream president and general manager Timothy Ritvo in a release. "Because of the commitment to Thoroughbred racing by our chairman, Mr. Frank Stronach, we have been able to work with our industry partners to bring the prestigious Eclipse Awards to Gulfstream as well as the popular Claiming Crown. We have made some slight adjustments to our stakes schedule, but we believe our horsemen, who have been incredible partners of ours, will find the changes beneficial and rewarding."