Gulfstream Park kicks off its championship meeting on Saturday with the Claiming Crown, stakes races restricted to the blue collar set. The meeting offers a record 73 stakes, including 37 graded races during the 77th anniversary meet at the Hallandale, Florida racetrack.
The marquee event of the meeting is the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on April 2. The race has produced 22 Kentucky Derby (G1) winners.
The race is the final prep for Kentucky Derby hopefuls going throughout Florida. Other races on the Derby trail are the $100,000 Hutcheson (G3) and $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Jan. 2, the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) and $150,000 Swale (G3) Jan. 30, the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) and $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) Feb. 27, and the $75,000 Spectacular Bid March 19.
Highlights of the 2015-2016 Championship Meet stakes schedule include:
- The $1 million Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park’s signature event that has produced the winners of 57 Triple Crown races since being inaugurated in 1952, will be supported by the $300,000 Honey Fox (G2), $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), $200,000 Appleton (G3), $200,000 Pan American (G3), $200,000 Orchid (G3), $150,000 Skip Away (G3) and Sir Shackleton.
- A pair of Super Saturday programs will be highlighted by important preps for the Florida Derby on Jan. 30 and Feb. 27. The $350,000 Holy Bull (G2), a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds, will top the Jan. 30 card that will also feature the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2), $150,000 Swale (G3), $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy. On Feb. 27, Florida Derby hopefuls will prep in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on a stakes-laden card that will include the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2), $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), $150,000 Palm Beach (G3), $150,000 Herecomesthebride (G3), $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), $100,000 Sand Springs and $75,000 Texas Glitter.
- The $100,000 Mucho Macho Man and the $100,000 Hutcheson (G3) kick off the season for newly turned 3-year-olds Jan. 2 on a Super Saturday card that will also feature the $100,000 Old Hat (G3), $100,000 Dania Beach (G3) and $100,000 Ginger Brew.
- The $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), the first major handicap of the racing season, will co-headline a Feb. 6 Super Saturday card with the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), supported by the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), $100,000 Fred Hooper (G3), $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint.
- The Sunshine Millions will be renewed on Jan. 16 will offer six stakes, including the $250,000 Classic and the inaugural running of the $100,000 Sprint.
- The Claiming Crown, revitalized since being hosted by Gulfstream Park the past two years, will offer nine races, including the $200,000 Jewel and the newly added $110,000 Distaff Dash, on Opening Day of the Championship Meet.
Racing will be Wednesday through Sunday with a 12:10 ET post time in December.