By David Joseph —-
July 4th Card Topped by $100,000 Martha Washington, $100,000 Not Surprising
Freedom Fest Celebration includes Giveways, Specials and Fireworks
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The $100,000 Martha Washington and the $100,000 Not Surprising will highlight Tuesday’s Freedom Fest program at Gulfstream Park, where the Fourth of July holiday will be celebrated with a schedule of special events culminating with an evening fireworks show.
The Martha Washington, a mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field of eight (including a main-track-only entrant). Trainer Todd Pletcher, who wrapped up the Spring Meet training title Friday, entered Adorable Miss, who finished in the Penn Oaks last time out, and Flying Harmony, an impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream June 11.
Multiple stakes-placed Bitacora looms as the filly to beat. The Francisco D’Angelo-trained daughter of Dominus closed strongly in the recent Ginger Punch at Gulfstream to finish a half-length behind multiple-stakes winner Somethingelse.
A field of 10 three-year-olds (plus a main-track-only entrant) has been assembled to compete in the No Surprising, also a mile turf event. Pletcher-trained Bronson, who captured the English Channel May 6 at Gulfstream before finishing off the board in the Penn Mile (G3), and Gilberto Zerpa-trained Basha, a multiple stakes-placed son of Uncle Mo, are among the more prominent contenders.
First-race post time for the 11-race program is set for 1:15 p.m.
A grab giveaway in which everyone is a winner will be held at the west side of the walking ring 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with prizes ranging from betting vouchers, Gulfstream Park swag, programs, Ten Palms buffets and race wagers.
Fourth of July buffets will be offered at Ten Palms 12-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. each for $29.
A live performance will be held in the North Tiki Area 6:30 – 9 p.m. and a DJ will entertain in the walking ring 6-9 pm.
The Grucci Grand Illusion Fireworks will begin in the infield at 9:30 p.m.
Gulfstream Registers Record Total and Average Handle on Spring Meet
Gulfstream Park’s spring meet, which concluded Friday, showed record increases in total and average handle for the second consecutive year.
Total handle on Gulfstream’s races for the meet was $312 million, a 13-percent increase while surpassing last year’s record of $276 million and the 2015 total of $246 million.
Average handle also continued rise, climbing to $5.3 million after being $4.6 million in 2016 and $4.2 million in 2015.
“We continue building and rejuvenating year-round racing in Florida,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park. “We continue to see more horsemen staying year-round in South Florida or leaving horses here year-round. This is helping build a better product while allowing us to field large, competitive fields. We appreciate the support of horsemen as well as the support from fans and bettors.
“We want to keep pushing ahead. We kicked off our summer meet with an incredible Summit of Speed program Saturday afternoon. Come Tuesday we expect some 15,000 people to come to Gulfstream for Freedom Fest, our special holiday program and a fireworks show. We’re also excited about this year’s Florida Sire Stakes and the great 2-year-olds we’ll get to see develop here throughout the next three months.
Some of the more memorable moments of the spring included:
o Todd Pletcher, who has won an unprecedented 14 consecutive titles during the Championship Meet, capturing the spring training title while Tyler Gaffalione won the jockey’s title.
o Several 2-year-olds preparing for the summer’s lucrative Florida Sire Stakes including Florida Fuego, who ran away from her opponents June 24 to win by five lengths.
o Longtime horseman Manny Azpurua, who passed away June 11, was honored by his nephew Leo Azpurua Jr., just four days later when he saddled Somethingelse to win the $100,000 Ginger Punch.
o The 20-cent Rainbow 6 swelled to $5.5 million June 17 and returned multiple winners $26,761.18.
Gulfstream Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets.