(Edited Gulfstream Park release)
There will be slight modifications this year to the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III), two preps for the Florida Derby (gr. I) that will be run March 27 at Gulfstream Park.
On Aug. 26, the Florida track released its stakes schedule for the 2010 meet that begins Jan. 3 and runs through April 23.
The $250,000 Fountain of Youth will return to 1 1/8 miles, the same distance of the Florida Derby, and the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes will return to a mile.
The Feb. 27 Fountain of Youth, as in years past, will be run four weeks before the Florida Derby, while the Holy Bull will be run at a mile on Jan. 23, five weeks before the FOY.
Gulfstream Park racing secretary Dan Bork, in his first year at the helm, said "The timing of the Florida Derby, five weeks before the Kentucky Derby, and the subsequent (winning) performances of Barbaro and Big Brown at Churchill Downs, has enhanced the race’s reputation as a barometer for Triple Crown success while further enhancing Gulfstream Park’s already solid reputation as a proving ground for future champions.
"Horsemen indicated a desire to have a two-turn race a little closer to the Florida Derby," Mr. Bork said, "and we believe we have accommodated them with the bump in distance of the Fountain of Youth from a mile to a mile and an eighth. With these changes – coupled with the horsemen’s pursuit of graded-stakes earnings in preparation for the Kentucky Derby – we expect the serious classic contenders to stay close to home."
"One of the great treats of racing at Gulfstream Park is the chance to witness the nation’s greatest 3-year-olds sort themselves out as they prepare for the Triple Crown," said Bill Murphy, Gulfstream Park president and general manager.
Other highlights of the meet are the Jan. 30 Sunshine Millions, the Feb. 6 Donn Handicap (gr. I) and the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT), to be run on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7. The big game will be played in nearby Miami Gardens.
Appearing on the calendar for the first time is the Adena Springs Sugar Swirl Stakes (gr. III). Owned by Frank Stronach – the chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of Gulfstream Park – Sugar Swirl became the only filly or mare to sweep the trio of sprint stakes for older females: the six-furlong race now known as the Adena Springs Sugar Swirl, formerly known as the First Lady; the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie, and the seven-furlong Inside Information. She pulled off her hat trick in 2008.
A stakes that reverts to its original name is the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship. Known as such from its inception in 1972, the $150,000, grade II race had been conducted as the Richter Scale from 2003 through last year.