By Randy Abraham
The road to the Triple Crown runs through Gulfstream Park, even when fans don’t realize it.
Each year, a colony of trainers, jockeys, and grooms, united in their love for thoroughbred racing, make a pilgrimage to Gulfstream Park, which for decades has been a mainstay in the nation’s winter racing calendar.
For many, it’s the love of the sport that keeps them going at a time when the sport is struggling to reclaim a new audience. For many, it’s a memory of a special horse like Forego, Spectacular Bid, Holy Bull, Cigar, and Barbaro, as well as the search for a new horse, that keeps them going and makes them get out of bed many hours before dawn to go work in this tough business.
Gulfstream Park has evoked such strong passions among horsemen, jockeys, reporters, touts, bettors, and fans since the track’s inception.
Even on that first day, February 1, 1939, when a crowd of 18,000 literally could not wait to get into the facility, jumping fences and bypassing the 50-cent admission booths, Gulfstream Park has been a racetrack that combines innovation with great racing.
The evolution of Gulfstream Park continues with a state-of-the-art clubhouse with year-round attractions such as two casinos featuring Las Vegas-style slots and video poker machines, luxurious simulcast and poker rooms, fine dining, and live entertainment.
As one approaches the stately 300,000 square foot clubhouse, the eyes focus on the majestic walking ring and amphitheater featuring spectacular water works. During race days, this inviting spot hosts the pageantry of racehorses parading before the wagering public, and in between race meets, serves as an intimate open-air setting for live entertainment. The procession to the clubhouse along one of Gulfstream’s lushly landscaped walkways never fail to create the anticipation that something exciting is about to happen.
The first level of the clubhouse also features the Silks Simulcast Center, the Breezeway Bar, and the Finish Line Racino, which boasts a video poker room, a large assortment of penny and low-denomination slot machines, a high roller area, additional Thoroughbred simulcast stations, and a food court.
One of the most beautiful simulcast rooms in the racing world, Silks is open every day for simulcasting from the top racetracks around the country. Comfortable seating, 60 plasma TV’s, a food court, and a lively atmosphere puts guests trackside all day and into the night. Full bar service, pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, chicken and Cuban sandwiches, quesadillas, sodas, muffins, and other hot and cold favorites are available at Silks.
The second level features the Ten Palms Restaurant with its spectacular trackside views and expansive seating for 1,200, a second casino with more than 500 slot machines, and the Sport of King Poker & Racing Lounge.
Its theater-in-the-round design, just like the World Series of Poker, means that every seat in the house is the best seat in the house, and includes single-table sit-n-go tournaments and multi-table tournaments nightly.
Guests can also enjoy Thoroughbred racing from the nation’s top racetracks and other sports events every day on a 10-by-50 foot video wall and array of large flat-screen monitors. Full bar service and a lunch menu help guests refuel without missing any action. Sport of Kings Theater offers the seamless blend of poker, simulcasting, and comfortable big-screen viewing areas.
Upscale dining takes place on the third floor at the legendary Christine Lee’s, which relocated to Gulfstream after 37 award-winning years on Miami Beach. Designed on a grand scale and featuring equine art by renowned artists, this trackside restaurant is flanked by 22 luxury suites.
With its poker, gaming, and sports venues, along with the elegance and prowess, Gulfstream Park is South Florida’s ultimate entertainment destination.