The latest incarnation of Gulfstream

I have documented at length my enjoyment of Gulfstream Park.  No, I wasn’t at the old Gulfstream, and no, I am not a Stronach/Magna fan, and yes, I agree that there are too few seats…but on your average racing day, I find Gulfstream a pretty pleasant place to spend a day at the races.

Saturday, March 20th, was not your average racing day; it was the day of the Florida Derby.  And though I spent two hours tops at the track that day, Gulfstream was not necessarily a pleasant place to be.

The Village at Gulfstream Park opened earlier this year, and those who were worried about it would affect parking on big racing days (big racing day?) were right.  OK, granted, I arrived at five minutes to post. But when two parking lots are full and you’ve got to weave your way through shoppers and shops to find a third, something’s not working. 

Gulfstream was packed. Packed.  Moving through the paddock and across the apron required bulldozing one’s way through walls of people, and there is no way that all those people on line at 3 MTP got their bets in. No way.  The good news is that there were a ton of people at the track, and handle was high. The bad news is the place was cramped and uncomfortable. I wonder how many of those in attendance actually got to see a live horse, in the paddock or on the track?

After the races, hundreds of shoppers and diners milled among the stores and restaurants; a live band played near the paddock, and a festive atmosphere pervaded the place. It was a perfectly pleasant place to be

The next day, Gulfstream was back to its manageable, tropical self. Lines were manageable; picnic tables and bar seats were readily available; betting lines were short.  And when the last race was over, while I didn’t much feel like going shoe shopping, I was quite pleased that within a short walk, a number of restaurants and bars offered dining and socializing options.  And it was good to know that should the mood strike, the shoes were there.

Yeah, it’s all a little garish, and the architecture is a little over-the-top…but hey, it’s South Florida, and affronts to taste are everywhere.  I’ve been at Aqueduct all winter, and while its grime and grittiness are near and dear to my heart, a little al fresco betting, drinking, and eating among the palm trees is a welcome respite.

Next stop:  Tampa Bay Downs.

2 thoughts on “The latest incarnation of Gulfstream

  1. Live racing is the 4th or 5th priority (casino, shopping, restaurants, simulcasting…) at Gulfstream. It’s long past time for everyone to admit it. I’m afraid for this post, you should have stopped at “I wasn’t at the old Gulfstream”.

    Looks like a new gambling compact has been negotiated with the Seminole tribe in FL. I’m eager to understand how it might effect Brunetti’s plans for a Thoroughbred meet at Hialeah which he (wrongly in my opinion) believes is tied to his ability to open a slots parlor.

    I trust you’ll enjoy your day at Tampa Bay Downs. Early analysis indicates that the new gambling pact will doom TBD while the nearby Tampa Seminole Hard Rock Casino will flourish.

    • Like I said, not a huge Magna/Stronach fan, but I like watching the races/being at Gulfstream.

      Like you, wish I had better understanding of how this new gambling compact will affect racing in general and Hialeah specifically.

      I *loved* Tampa Bay Downs. Will write about it soon.

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