Gulfstream to have additional seats, giant TVs when its new season opens
BY JIM FREER
MIAMI HERALD WRITER
When Gulfstream Park opens its season on Dec. 3, it will have 250 additional seats facing the track and six new giant TV screens.
Gulfstream also will have 1 1/16-mile dirt races for the first time since 2004.
Many of the changes will be in and near the tiki hut area where fans watch horses coming toward the finish line, said Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo.
The new seats will be free, with a clear view of the track, and in an area just north of the tiki hut.
They will be covered and in what Gulfstream calls a stadium-like structure.
Seating has been an issue since 2006, when Gulfstream opened its new facility with only about 850 seats facing the track.
However, Gulfstream has had numerous large screens for showing races.
For the upcoming race meet, the Hallandale Beach track will have six new Daktronics boards, including one as the new screen and tote board in the infield.
“They are all high-definition and state-of-the-art,” Ritvo said.
Since it put in its new 1 1/8-mile track in 2005, Gulfstream’s configuration has not enabled it to run 1 1/16-mile dirt races.
For the 2011-12 season, it will have a new second finish line, about 60 yards short of the regular finish, and will have 1 1/16-mile races on the dirt.
That is a popular distance for many trainers, including those with horses they are preparing for Gulfstream’s 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.
“A lot of the trainers have told me they are looking forward to this change,” Ritvo said.
In recent years, some trainers at Gulfstream and at its affiliate Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach have sent horses to other tracks for 1 1/16-mile races.
Gulfstream’s biggest 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds will be the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 26.
The $1 million Florida Derby will be on March 31.
Calder Casino & Race Course will end its season on Dec. 2.
Gulfstream will open the next day and have racing through April 8, 2012.