The sunny climate of Florida makes it an ideal state for racing in the winter, providing a home for thoroughbreds while the rest of the east coast freezes. In addition to providing some of the best racing action in the U.S., this state is home to the famous Harborview Farm, which raised Affirmed, the last horse to take home the Triple Crown before American Pharoah broke a 37-year drought.
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Florida Horse Race Tracks
Most of the biggest races in Florida take place at the Gulfstream Park race track at Hallandale Beach. During January, Gulfstream Park teams with Santa Anita Park to host the Sunshine Millions series of races. This unique arrangement has half of the series run at both locations, with entry restricted to thoroughbreds from California and Florida. Gulfstream Park also is the site for significant prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Tampa Bay Downs is another well-regarded horse racing track in the Sunshine State. Opened in 1926, its popularity during the 1950s resulted in this facility being dubbed the “Santa Anita of the south”. This track also features an important tune-up on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Florida Horse Races
As a Grade One event with a million-dollar purse, the Florida Derby is the premiere race within the state. Held at Gulfstream Park the winner of this derby is a lock to finish top-ten on the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings that grants access to compete in the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs is another significant Kentucky Derby prep race. Despite the race rewarding half the points of the Florida Derby, winning the Tampa Bay Derby places thoroughbred racers in a superb position to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Another great Floridian event is the Sunshine Millions, comprised of a series of races with a total purse of $1.3 million. This series was created by noted horseman Frank Stronach.
In January of 2017, Gulfstream Park is scheduled to host the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup. The race is slated to be the richest in the world and has been granted Grade 1 status. In order to participate in the race, owners must purchase a slot in the starting gate for $1 million - all twelve slots are sold out and California Chrome is expected to be part of the field.
Off Track Betting in Florida
Florida is one of the most popular states for off track betting in the United States, with dozens of locations catering to horse wagering aficionados. OTB sites allow players to wager on the biggest events from around the world, under the authority of Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.