New Gulfstream Park Races Toward Completion

Front and center on the desk of Gulfstream Park president Scott Savin is an index card labeled, "What If..." The card lists every conceivable malfunction along with corrective measures, and is especially appropriate as the Hallandale Beach, Fla., racetrack gets closer to its Jan. 4 opening.

Gulfstream already has encountered this year's biggest possible "What If" when Hurricane Wilma tore through Oct. 24 and delayed construction of the new, state-of-the-art clubhouse. As a result, Savin expects only the first of four floors, along with 900 stadium-style seats trackside on the second floor, to be ready for opening day.

To compensate for the reduced patron space, Gulfstream will assemble an 80-by-130-foot tent, with capacity for up to 5,000 people, just to the north of the clubhouse.

"It's a little bit of 2005 brought back," Savin said in reference to temporary facilities used for the last meet at Gulfstream.
He also expects that, with parent company Magna Entertainment Corp. having reached an accord on simulcasting in the South Florida market with Churchill Downs Inc., an optimum place to watch and bet on Gulfstream during the first month of the 2006 meet will be across town at Calder Race Course.

Savin anticipates that by the meet's first major racing day--Jan. 28, which features the Sunshine Millions program--Ten Palms, a 1,200-seat dining room that runs the length of the second floor along windows fronting the track, will be finished. Two weeks later, he believes, the entire building will be complete.

Judging by the feverish pitch of construction, Savin's projections appear accurate. Droves of workers from Suitt Construction are working in teams of three shifts daily, seven days per week, with work commencing in the pre-dawn hours and lasting well into the night. The exterior of the structure is nearly finished as are all of the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing preparations.

Most of the remaining work is interior, and a visitor sees dramatic changes from one day to the next.

"It's an ongoing process, but right now we're on schedule for the revised timetable," Savin said. "I'm confident we'll meet those goals."