By Jim Freer
Wednesday, April 8 -- Gulfstream Park will open its 2015 spring/summer racing season this afternoon with an eight-race card topped by a $46,000 allowance optional claimer that includes the Todd Pletcher-trained stakes star Vinceremos.
First post is 1 p.m. for opening day and for most other days in the meet that will extend through Oct. 3.
Gulfstream will have a Wednesday through Sunday live racing schedule until the week of May 18 and then run Thursdays through Sundays, with the exception of several holidays, until the end of its six-month season.
Gulfstream has 72 entrants including also eligibles for today’s card that offers $217,000 in purses.
The $46,000 allowance is the third race with scheduled post of 2 p.m. It is one mile on dirt with seven entrants.
Cash Rules and Dudeman loom as top challengers to Vinceremos. Of the three, only the 8-year-old gelding Cash Rules is in for a tag.
Last year Vinceremos finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) and won the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
He experienced a rough trip and finished seventh March 14 in a one-mile optional claimer at Gulfstream--his first race since last October 8 when he came in third in a race with similar conditions at Belmont Park. Edgard Zayas has the mount on the 4-year-old gelding.
Cash Rules, trained by David Fawkes, finished fifth March 14 under similar conditions to the opening day feature. The multiple stakes-winning son of Peace Rules has earned nearly $500,000. He finished second to Ron the Greek in the 2013 Sunshine Millions Classic. Luca Panici has the mount.
The four-year-old Dudeman’s record includes a second to the highly regarded Atreides in the one-mile Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream last Dec.8. Edgar Prado will ride for trainer Jane Cibelli.
Gulfstream was dark for two days after it ended its 2014-15 championship meet April 5.
Gulfstream has not yet released data on handle and field size for its four-month championship meet.
But our review of Equibase Co. charts indicates that Gulfstream will surpass or come close to the its record daily average all-sources handle of $8.6 million that it set in 2012-13.
Gulfstream’s average daily all-sources handle was $8.3 million in 2013-14 when it raced head-to-head with neighbor Calder Casino & Race Course on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The two tracks settled their dates dispute last July, and Gulfstream has leased Calder’s racing operations through June 2020.
Gulfstream will hold a 40-day meet at Calder, now called Gulfstream Park West, from Oct. 7 to Nov. 28. Gulfstream will then begin its 2015-16 championship meet Dec. 5.