If Calder and Gulfstream Park run on the same days next year then Bernie can head to Calder where I am sure the crowds will be thinner, lots of parking up close, and the food will cost a lot less. One other question I get a lot is, will Calder simulcast the Sunshine Millions and the Holy Bull? Or will Gulfstream Park simulcast the paint and appaloosa championships from Calder?
From Bernie Dickman and Track Times:
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
(February 1, 2011) – I’ve checked out Gulfstream Park several times in the past few years since the casino opened, but I had never been there for racing until a couple of weeks ago. Now I’ve been there twice, once when our Golden Hills Golfers filly – Saki – was racing, and again Saturday for the Sunshine Millions.
Here are my impressions, and I will try to be as fair as possible considering my disdain for what Frank Stronach has wreaked upon the American racing public in general, and Floridians in particular.
First, the plus column:
The physical structure itself is impressive, in my opinion. The place is clean, upbeat, and when it’s crowded, as it was both times I visited, there’s an unmistakable air of excitement.
Both times I was there, we sat in the Ten Palms Restaurant, which offers a superb view of the track. The first time we had lunch, we had the choice of either ordering from the menu or availing ourselves of the buffet, and we selected the buffet. There was a wide variety of appetizers, entrees and everything else one could desire, including a nice assortment of desserts, my particular favorite.
Wagering was made easy, with two betting messengers roaming the area in which we were seated so we never had to trek to the mutuel windows. We were also seated near the stairs that lead right to the infield apron and the winner’s circle in case we needed it. We didn’t. It seemed as though there was action and activity everywhere, and that helped fuel the excitement of the afternoon.
Now, the minuses:
After the more-than-satisfying experience of the first afternoon, Sunshine Millions day proved to be far less palatable. We first had to wend our way through the heavier traffic in the new mall that guards the track and casino so it can’t be seen from Federal Highway. Then, valet parking was filled, so we were sent to a second valet parking area where we could pay $10 for the privilege.
Upstairs, Tim Ritvo, the very gracious vice president of racing, once again provided an excellent table next to the window for me, Jacinto Vasquez and Robert Hopkins. We had driven down with Jimmy Alexander, manager of Don Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm, who had First Dude in the $500,000 Classic. Jimmy was sitting with Mr. Dizney and his family in one of the luxury suites, which add an elegant touch for those who can afford them.
It only took a few minutes to find out from our waiter that the buffet was scrapped for SM day. The “menu” consisted of a piece of paper which listed the day’s fare: salad, an entree of prime rib, or some Italian dish, or chicken. And, a dessert of key lime pie. That was it. And I don’t like key lime pie. Especially at a $55 minimum per person.
Robert and I ordered the prime rib and I asked the waiter what comes with it. He said carrots and small, red potatoes. I told him I don’t care for carrots and could he just leave them off and give me a few extra potatoes instead. He said they couldn’t do that. What?
The food was out within three minutes, so I guess they had the plates ready and waiting to be picked up. Robert and I first tried the prime rib – a huge piece, I might add – and it wasn’t up to the standards I’m used to, especially for $55. Robert said the same. I ate one of the potatoes and it was lukewarm, virtually uncooked, and hard as a rock. I called the waiter over and told him so, and within a minute he was back with another half a plate of the potatoes, hot and cooked. But he couldn’t give me a few extra potatoes when I asked for them earlier. And, of course, when I finished the meal, I was left dessertless.
The racing was excellent, and we made several bets, and talked with a bunch of people one or more us knew when they passed by. Double Diamond had a horse in the seventh race, so we went down to the paddock, spoke to Mr. Dizney and several others, went to the jock’s room to visit Victor Sanchez, the clerk of scales whom I’ve known since the early days of Calder in the 70s, and came back to the table to bet on and watch the race. But somebody had stolen half of my Daily Racing Form from our table, the half with the Gulfstream past performances. The waiter ran out and found a track program with Gulfstream in it, and no other tracks. In other words, we couldn’t even handicap the three Sunshine Millions races from Santa Anita, and Double Diamond had a colt – Apriority – running in the $200,000 Sprint. To compound the felony, there were several races from Argentina tacked on at the end of the day for patrons to bet on. But not the three Santa Anita races. Go figure.
First Dude finished a horribly disappointing fourth as the heavy favorite, which really put a damper on the day. Ten minutes after the race, Mr. Dizney, trainer Dale Romans and jockey Kent Desormeaux were still near the track talking about what went wrong.
Our check for three came to $204.60, tax and tip included. And that was without anyone drinking any hard stuff. If anybody wants to know why tracks are having so much difficulty getting new customers to attend, they might want to address this serious problem. Unless, of course, Frank Stronach just doesn’t care. But somebody should because the game can’t be merely the sport of Kings anymore, there aren’t enough kings left to foot the bill.
A word about the programs themselves. The four covers are printed in brilliant, superb-looking four-color, but the black and white ads inside – and there are plenty – are just short of disgraceful. The printer who allowed them to leave his premises like that should be embarrassed, as should the people at Gulfstream. Especially for $2.50 per program.
- Gulfstream Park to Host 2012 Claiming Crown on Opening Day
- Bill would let dog track, fronton move
- Casinos at the crossroads: 7 key moments marked historic debate
- Calder Race Course supervisor, 2 contractors charged in alleged kickback scheme.
- Quote from United Florida Horsemen on today’s Gadsden County slot referendum (1/31):