HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A spectacular 2015-2016 Championship Meet concluded Sunday at Gulfstream Park, highlighted by undefeated Nyquist’s commanding triumph in Saturday’s $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) and yet another season of record-setting wagering activity.
The rare East vs. West clash of undefeated Triple Crown candidates, Nyquist and Mohaymen, in the 65th running of the Florida Derby spurred record wagering on the 14-race card that offered eight stakes, placing an exclamation point on a most memorable 85-day season. The $32.082 million handle easily eclipsed the 2015 Florida Derby Day record of $27,255 million. The 2016 Florida Derby Day handle was the highest in the history of Gulfstream Park with the exception of Breeders’ Cup Days.
The big day punctuated a banner 2015-2016 season that generated a record all-sources handle of $807 million, a 15-percent increase over the 2014-2015 record handle of $704 million. The new record was set despite 57 turf races moved to dirt, compared to only 13 last season.
Riding the wave of strong wagering during the meet, the 20-cent Rainbow 6 generated a North American Pick 6 pool record March 28. Prompted by a mandatory payout and a carryover of nearly $4.5 million, wagering exceeded $10.8 million on the popular multi-race wager to produce a $15.185 million pool.
“We’re extremely gratified with Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet,” said P.J. Campo, Gulfstream’s General Manager and The Stronach Group’s Vice President of Racing. “Starting with the Claiming Crown back in December and building on key days like Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth, Sunshine Millions and the Donn Handicap, it seemed fitting our meet would culminate with a record Florida Derby Day and the wonderful performance by the undefeated colt Nyquist.
“Despite an inclement December and 57 races being taken off the turf, we continued to build our racing program with incredible equine and human performances and wonderful support from horsemen throughout North America. We still believe there’s plenty of room for growth in our Championship Meet and we’re excited about our summer program; a program we continue to reinvigorate. We’re looking forward to a great summer with our Summit of Speed and Florida Sire Stakes races, and we’re looking forward to making our Championship Meet even better next year.”
Reddam Racing LLC’s Nyquist emerged from a 3 ¼-length triumph in the Florida Derby with a $600,000 winner’s purse, a $1 million bonus from Fasig-Tipton, and an undefeated record of 7-for-7 to stamp himself as the horse to beat in the Kentucky Derby May 2. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt became the first Eclipse Award champion to capture the Florida Derby since Fly So Free (1991).
Although the most celebrated horse of the meeting, Nyquist was among a strong contingent of prominent major stakes winners to compete during the Championship Meet, most notably Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt, who finished a disappointing fourth in the Florida Derby, earned favoritism in his showdown with Nyquist by winning both the Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2).
Al Shaqab Racing’s Mshawish established dominance in the older male division, moving from turf to dirt to win both the Hal’s Hope (G3) and Donn Handicap (G1). Melnyk Racing Stables’ Lukes Alley took down the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1).
Cash is King LLC’s Cathryn Sophia registered a pair of dazzling triumphs, overwhelming her 3-year-old filly rivals by 5 ½ lengths in the Forward Gal (G2) and by 7 lengths in the Davona Dale (G2). Gary Barber and partners’ Catch A Glimpse, the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile turf filly, made a stunning 2016 debut, capturing the Herecomesthebride (G3) by 2 ½-lengths for trainer Mark Casse.
Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet was the only three-time stakes winner at the meeting, establishing sprinting dominance with triumphs in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) and Mr. Prospector (G3).
Todd Pletcher continued his domination among trainers, capturing his 13th consecutive Championship Meet title with 62 visits to the winner’ circle. Javier Castellano collected his fifth straight jockey title with 113 winners. Ken and Sarah Ramsey topped the owner standings for fourth consecutive season with 29 winners.
Source: Gulfstream Park