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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Space Invasion: Gulfstream Park

If you’ve noticed it’s been a little quiet around these parts, it’s because the Space Clan took a little sojourn down South Florida way before the busy season cranks up to full tilt. We celebrated the Space Kid’s first birthday with Mickey and made a couple visits to beautiful Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.

While in full relax mode, I spent more of Friday snapping pictures while flying solo then on Sunshine Millions Day. I caught about six races on Friday afternoon, where the crowd grew as the day passed, but it was pleasantly comfortable as I moved between the paddock seats and the rail all day long.

This was not my first visit to Gulfstream, but a lot has changed in and around the track since my last visit two years ago. I usually try and make a trip the second week of January, but with the little guy’s first and the Sunshine Millions on Saturday, tradition was put on the back burner and we came down a few weeks later. The weather both days was very pleasant, a little overcast with a warm wind swirling around the park. I really enjoy (to the chagrin of John from Not to the Swift) the Gulfstream surrounding, especially hanging out in the paddock area with a dollar draft (very dangerous, the dollar draft) and the Form in the bright Florida sunshine. Let’s say life was good.

I introduced myself to Travis Stone, Louisiana Downs race caller and co-founder of Horse Racing Nation on Friday after one of his simulcasts between races. We exchanged pleasantries and he was nice enough to spend a few minutes with me. His site seems to be doing rather well and he reported traffic has been increasing significantly.

This was a total gambling trip for me (on vacation from the blog too), so we concentrated on winning some money more than looking for blog intrigue. Not that anyone is ever intrigued by anything I write! We got out of Friday alive by hitting a trifecta ($57.50) in the 5th using the even money chalk (I’ll Take Two/Pletcher/Velazquez) on top of two 7-1’s (Shehashighhopes and Albali) which put us up a few schillings going into Saturday’s big day.
The next two races probably made my day (even though we suffered through gambling losses) from a fan perspective. In the 6th, Jose Lezcano rode a game Prestidigitation ($9.80) to a 4 1/2 length come from behind victory. I was watching from just beyond the finish line next to the winner’s circle and caught an extremely giddy Wayne Catalano greeting his winner upon his return to the winner’s circle. Cell phone in hand and screaming into it his excitement over the big win, he gave the five year old gelding and winner of 5 of 20 lifetime a nice pat on the rear.
The next race was crazy as Pletcher/Velazquez struck again after Drover ($10.80) wired the field after fast turf fractions (23:07, 47:03 and 1:11:87) opening up a 12 length lead after the half and holding off the hard charging 43-1 longshot Forty Nine Acres in a photo.

Day one was a success both from a fan perspective and in the ADW account. Here are some shots of Gulfstream and some of the day’s events.….

Gate break in the 4th on the turf with Aventura's condos in the background.

Cordero, Pletcher & Velazquez before jumping on Five Fifty Five, a Zayat horse that finished 8th.

Travis Stone doing the simulcast from the paddock for HRTV.

Alan H of the Bug Boys would be proud that I captured this shot of the Jockeys heading out of the saddling paddock.

Prestidigitation with a dominating win with Jose Lezcano up.

Well, maybe he's not so giddy. Trainer Wayne Catalano on the horn after Prestidigitation's big win. Believe me, he was a happy man.
That's a wrap on day one of two. Sunshine Millions post up next...



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