Special look at Gulfstream Park - a course rich in history

Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, is the host of three races on ‘The Road to the Kentucky Derby’ qualifying series.

The track opened in 1939 for a brief four-day stint with 18,000 in attendance but then closed until 1944, when it reopened and has been operating every year since.

In 1952, the Florida Derby was introduced with the highest purse in horse racing of $100,000.

The complex has seen almost continuous expansion and now includes a casino and a shopping mall, as well as both dirt and turf tracks. The clubhouse can accommodate up to 14,000 fans inside its spacious confines.

Gulfstream Park opened in 1939
Gulfstream Park opened in 1939

Stakes races at Gulfstream

The track has been the home of many high-stakes races throughout its history, including the Breeders' Cup, the Sunshine Millions, the Pegasus World Cup and the Florida Derby, an annual Kentucky Derby prep race.

In addition to the Florida Derby, the Holy Bull Stakes and the Fountain of Youth Stakes are two other Derby prep races contested at Gulfstream Park.

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This year the Florida Derby will be run on March 27, the next-to-last day of the current racing meet, which began on December 2.

Live racing is conducted at Gulfstream Park every Wednesday through Sunday for the duration of the meet. For the 2020-2021 schedule, attendance was limited to about 50% of indoor capacity.

Julie Krone was the first and only female jockey to win a Triple Crown race
Julie Krone was the first and only female jockey to win a Triple Crown race

Famed Gulfstream jockeys

Two history-making Gulfstream jockeys that stand out are Angel Cordero Jr. and Julie Krone.

Cordero Jr. was the first jockey from Puerto Rico to make it into the United States Racing Hall of Fame.

During his storied career, he guided three horses to wins in the Kentucky Derby with Cannonade, Bold Forbes and Spend A Buck winning the Run for the Roses.

Cordero also won a pair of Preakness Stakes races and a Belmont Stakes, as well as four Breeders' Cup races. He received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1982, 1983 and 1985.

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His career all but ended after a fall in a race at Aqueduct in 1992, although he did ride once more in the Breeders' Cup in 1995.

Julie Krone, now retired, was a groundbreaking jockey whose career began at Tampa Bay Downs in 1981.

She went on in 1993 to become the first and only female jockey to win a Triple Crown race aboard Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes.

In 2003, she became the first woman to win a Breeders' Cup race and, with her induction in 2000, was the first woman to make it into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.