The Florida Derby: Seven Decades of Horse Racing at Gulfstream Park
Showcases champions from over seven decades of horse racing, spanning from Black-and-White to Technicolor
The Florida Derby turns 72 years old this year, and few races, if any, have had the impact on the sport’s fabled Triple Crown as Gulfstream Park’s signature 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 event.
Inaugurated in 1952, when Sky Ship won over Handsome Teddy by a head to take down the $17,650 winner’s share of a $24,750 purse, the Florida Derby established itself as a premier prep for the Spring Classics the very next year when Money Broker followed up a victory in the $146.250 event with a triumph in the Kentucky Derby. Steeped in tradition, the Florida Derby’s relevance has endured, flourishing as a most effective stepping stone to Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown success.
In the first 71 runnings of the Florida Derby, 45 starters have gone on to win a remarkable 58 Triple Crown events. There have been 24 Kentucky Derby winners, 18 Preakness winners, and 16 Belmont winners.
White Abarrio’s 1 ¼-length triumph in 2022 capped a meet for Saffie Joseph Jr. where the year-round South Florida resident dethroned perennial champion and Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher as the Championship Meet’s leading trainer. It was also the first Florida Derby win for Eclipse Award-winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who was born and raised in nearby Davie, Fla.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who would be installed in Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame a few months later, saddled his record-sixth winner of the Florida Derby in 2021. St. Elias Stable’s Known Agenda scored by 2 ¾ lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr.
For 2023, the Florida Derby event will boast the great historic racing that it is well known for, as well as entertainment on every turn. As guests enter Gulfstream Park, they will be welcomed with the tunes of music on the Village center stage. In the Breezeway, Jared Cole will be spinning sets from all generations. Jon Saxx will play smooth jazz for diners in Ten Palms. The fan-favorite Taste at the Track will offer a fun-filled wine and tapas experience in Gulfstream’s Flamingo Room. Attendees will sample from a variety of Derby bites and over a dozen red, white, rose, and sparkling wines.
Carousel Club, an open-air gathering spot with a spacious deck perched atop the racetrack, is a 14,000-square-foot club that features a whimsical circus-like motif, thanks to a massive canopy tent that covers the entire space, with a Carousel Bar, featuring a refurbished, full-sized spinning carousel as the bar’s backdrop. Carousel Club will celebrate the Florida Derby with performances throughout the day by jazz artist and Lady Gaga’s Vegas bandleader Brian Newman.
For tickets and details about the Florida Derby, please visit: gulfstreampark.com.