Stage Is Set For Magna Cross-Country Challenge

It will be the Miami Cruisers taking on the Los Angeles Blaze in a pair of cross-country racing events, Gulfstream Park president Scott Savin announced Friday.

Five days after what Savin called a "positive meeting" among horsemen at Gulfstream Park, Magna Entertainment Corp.'s idea for a rivalry between its flagship tracks, Gulfstream and Santa Anita, was endorsed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, setting the stage for a series of six races on each coast.

It was expected that the races, each carrying $100,000 purses and restricted black type, would be allowance conditions, with six runners and jockeys from Santa Anita taking on six from Gulfstream. Santa Anita will host the first series on March 3, followed, one week later, by the Blazes traveling to Gulfstream.

"It's a natural rivalry that will allow for people to back a home team the same way they do in other sports," said Savin, noting that plans are underway for proposition wagers allowing betting on a team, "Using team silks will add to that."