The entrance at Palm Meadows Training Center

The entrance at Palm Meadows Training Center

Suzie Picou Oldham

Gulfstream Park Opens Stable Area

Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows Training Center have begun accepting horses.

Gulfstream Park and the affiliated Palm Meadows Training Center have received about 3,600 stall applications for 2,452 stalls, officials at the South Florida racetrack said.

A contingent of 13 horses from trainer Eddie Plesa was on the first two vans to enter Gulfstream the morning of Nov. 12 when the stable gate opened for the 2008 meet. The 89-day session begins Jan. 3 and concludes April 20.

“The fact that we received 3,600 stall applications for 2,452 stalls at Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows speaks volumes to the expectations horsemen have for the meeting,” Gulfstream racing secretary Bill Couch said in a release.

Couch and racing manager Bernie Hettel will work their first seasons in the track’s racing department.

“Bill and I spent the summer issuing invitations to Eastern and Midwestern trainers, some familiar to South Florida racing fans and some not so familiar,” Hettel said in the release. “What they have in common is a high-quality of horsemanship and a desire to compete and participate in making this a super meeting.”

In addition Plesa, other trainers expected on the grounds Nov. 12 were Hall of Famer Jimmy Croll, Bob Barbara, Bob DiBona, Gary Lee, Colin Maragh, Paul Parisi, Mike Petro, Peter Walder, and Wesley Ward.

Meanwhile, the horse population at Palm Meadows, like Gulfstream owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., was at 137 Nov. 12. By Nov. 18, horses from Delaware, New England, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio are expected.

After Thanksgiving, horses trained by Hall of Fame horsemen Allen Jerkens, D. Wayne Lukas, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Jonathan Sheppard, and Nick Zito, as well as Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, and Barclay Tagg, are expected in South Florida.

There are 1,026 stalls at Gulfstream and 1,426 at Palm Meadows. Couch said all stalls should be filled by Dec. 10.