|by Augustus Mayhew
Saturday’s running of the 59th Florida Derby was my first visit to the New Gulfstream Park. The Gulfstream Park I remember — the grandstands, trackside open terrace dining and upper-level Turf Club — is gone. Horse racing is now the centerpiece of a Vegas-style multi-entertainment gaming and retail development. The Finish Line Casino, no photos allowed, is wall-to-wall with slot machines and poker rooms.
The complex also features a Silks Simulcast Center, VIP penthouse suites, and a village-type shopping center with a Pottery Barn, Cadillac Ranch and a Lamborghini Café. And, in what has become a familiar scenario, Gulfstream Park’s owner, Canadian auto-parts titan Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment Corp., has filed for bankruptcy protection. Did MEC actually think they were going to trump the Seminole Indian’s Hard Rock Casino?
|Although published reports indicate MEC has “liquidity issues,” Gulfstream was experiencing tsunami-sized cash flow on Florida Derby day. And while I tend to like the Old Gulfstream much more, there were several thousand race fans glued in front of simulcast screens and slot machines. As usual, there were maybe only a few hundred in the crowd, at most, of more than ten thousand who went a little further than tee shirts and shorts. After all, it is Florida.
Here is a look at some of the characters and scenes that caught my eye.
|Regine Borger and Lilly Borger.||Too crowded and moved too fast for me to get her name but I thought among the afternoon’s more fashionable looks.|
|Joan Bardik.||Seanna Paul-Hus and her daughter, Kaitlin Paul-Hus.|
|VIPS arriving too quickly to stop|
|Jerry Bailey, the phenomenal Hall of Fame rider, and a familiar network sportscaster.|
|Stepping inside the show ring: Trainers and Owners|
|Trainer William Mott and protégé.|
|Last minute words from Nick Zito.|
|Kent DesOrmeaux seen on the third floor before changing into his work clothes. Later, with trainer William I. Mott, snapped in the winner’s circle after the 31st running of The Rampart in the 8th race.|
|After a race|
|Winning jockeys are interviewed by HRN’s Alyssa Ali.||The Horse Race Network (HRN) broadcasts the winning words.|
|Trainer Danny L. Miller with the Calabrese family stable of Chicago.||After a race, Nick Zito walks back to the paddock.|
|The incomparable Todd A. Pletcher
|A Texas native and former protégé of D. Wayne Lukas, Todd A. Pletcher heads up the Todd Pletcher Racing Stables. Having begun his career as a hot walker at the age of 7, Mr. Pletcher has accomplished an enviable list of stakes winners and champions. Here are a few views of Mr. Pletcher, who at age 42 some consider the world’s #1 horse trainer, at work on Saturday.
The 59th running of the Florida Derby
|Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.|