There are many similarities between the sport in both countries, including the use of a “Stud Book” to track the lineage of Thoroughbred horses. There are also plenty of differences, including the prevalence of dirt track racing over turf in the US and the fact that steeplechases are almost completely non-existent.
Betting on horse racing is incredibly popular, though, and managed to thrive for decades while betting on other sports and casino games like Texas Hold’em, roulette, blackjack and Omaha hi-lo was limited to Nevada and a handful of other states.
Of the more than 30 race tracks in the US, one of the biggest and most popular is Gulfstream Park in Florida.
History of Gulfstream Park
Gulfstream Park first opened in February 1939, with a four-day race meeting marking the occasion. It would be another five years before another event took place though, with a whopping 20-day meeting hosted in December 1944.
Major events began shortly afterwards with the inaugural Gulfstream Park Handicap held in 1946 and the Florida Derby in 1952.
The Race Tracks
Gulfstream Park has two separate courses, a dirt track and a turf course. The former is 1.125 miles long while the latter has a circumference of exactly one mile.
These were upgraded during a renovation to the facilities in 2005, this saw both tracks get extended from their original lengths.
Gulfstream Park has seating capacity for more than 16,000 spectators in addition to standing areas.
Alongside the tracks are a number of facilities.
Like many other US race tracks, Gulfstream Park is home to a large casino. The betting laws in the United States has, until recently, made it difficult to operate a casino in most states. So many race track owners opened their own gaming facilities as it was often easier for them to do.
Gulfstream Park is no exception, with a large casino that is open 7-days a week. It offers a wide range of video slots, electronic table games, and a large poker room with 20 Texas Hold'em tables.
This allows the Gulfstream Park Casino to cater for all types of players, including beginners who want to bet low stakes, and seasoned players who are masters of poker bankroll management and bluffing. For the most experienced, there are even regular poker tournaments.
Many customers feel that combining the race track and casino together is a good idea as it means they can find all their favourite betting options in one place.
Even with the recent legalisation of online poker, casinos, and sports betting, physical casinos like the one at Gulfstream Park remain popular among Floridians and the rest of the US population.
Like many other large venues, Gulfstream Park has begun using its facilities for other types of event in recent years. One of the most successful has been hosting live music.
Artists usually perform from the grandstand with reserved seating and standing room set out around it. This includes a number of regular events called Music in the Park, as well as tribute acts like Elton and the Jets and local acts like Mr Nice Guy and The Wildfire Band.
Other exhibitions and events are also regularly held at Gulfstream Park covering a range of different industries.
Restaurants and Bars
A range of restaurants and bars can be found at Gulfstream Park which are open to racegoers and the general public.
This includes 17 separate restaurants that serve everything from American favourites like barbequed meats, sushi, pizza, Brazilian rodizio, and pastries. Yogurtland and Häagen-Dazs will also help you cool off in the Florida heat with cold ice cream and frozen yoghurt.
If that’s not enough, Gulfstream Park has its own nightclub. Club Fate is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday, with live DJs pumping out great EDM tunes until 6 AM. Alternatively, its Strike 10 venue offers 11 bowling lanes, a large selection of arcade machines, air hockey tables, and pool tables. You have everything you need under one roof in Strike 10, as it also offers multiple dining options, a bar, and 30 TV screens to watch live sports on.
Other facilities include private karaoke rooms and “Color Me Mine”, a “paint-it-yourself art studio”.
The Village is Gulfstream Park’s shopping outlet, with a range of independent local businesses and large chains. You’ll find brands like Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, as well as the Nadia Paris Hair Salon and Sher Gallery.
Gulfstream Park has a busy calendar of horse races throughout most of the year. During the season, events take place every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The track has three Grade I stakes races, the oldest and most prestigious being the Florida Derby. This has a $1 million prize purse and is held each spring. The others are the Pegasus World Cup and the Pegasus World Cup Turf which were first run in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
There are also 10 Grade II Stakes races, including the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes which have been run since 1945 and 1946 respectively. 24 Grade III Stakes races, 12 non-graded races, and a series of Florida Sire stakes events are also run on Gulfstream Park’s two circuits.
Its lineup includes all six races of the Sunshine Millions series which is open only to horses bred in Florida and offers a total of $1.3 million in prize money.
Gulfstream Park is one of the most prestigious race tracks in the United States and is home to all the biggest horse races in the state.
It offers far more than just horse racing though. Its facilities include a bowling alley, poker rooms, casino, night club, restaurants, shopping, and event spaces. This makes it a popular venue for all kinds of recreation and entertainment in Hallandale Beach and the surrounding areas.