Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

   Home      Gulfstream Park 1999

Breeeders' Cup, Gulfstream Park, Florida

A chance to replace my 1989 Breeders' T-shirt with the 1999 model. (Note: other t-shirts have been worn.) It had been ten years since my previous and only other visit to Gulfstream Park. In between I'd been lucky enough to attend Belmont Park twice for the New York version of the Breeders' Cup. The momento from Belmont was a rather loud rain jacket.

I flew out to Orlando a week before the racing to get acclimatised at my sister's place. She had been living in Florida for about a year. My brother-in-law Peter is a big racing fan so we focused on the Breeders' as the highlight of my holiday. Being Florida residents they'd had no trouble in obtaining the much sought after seats.

In the lead up to the event much time was spent keeping up to date with U.K. Bookmakers' prices. Thank goodness for the internet! Without access to the net expensive transatlantic calls would have been the only way to stay in touch with market developments.

We'd been reading about Jim Mazur in the SportsAdviser. Together with Peter Mallett he is responsible for "The Crushing Zone". This is a kind of American Timeform in which they put up 2/3 horses per race and speculate on trifecta combinations. Horses are divided into Pacesetters and Pressers, Stalkers and Closers. Peter had purchased a copy of "The Crushing Zone" to assist the selection process. Ante post wagers were struck with Corals and Ladbrokes. We'd  taken a positive view of the European challenge, as the weather was milder than previous runnings in '89 and '92.

On Thursday we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, 200 miles from Orlando but only a 30-minute drive from the track. Jim & Peter were holding a handicapping seminar on Friday and this would give us a taste for the big day. At the seminar, held in the Paddock before racing, Jim talked up the chances of Enjoy The Moment in the Sprint and Middlesex Drive in the Mile. Both were well drawn and further ante post bets were placed that evening.

Free copies of " The Crushing Zone" were distributed to race goers - not dissimilar to that which Peter had paid $30 for!!

Friday proved a little disappointing as Thady Quill was the only European representative on the card. O'Brien's t-y-o surprisingly went off at 3/1 having been 6/1 on the morning line. The American jockey tried to make all but the horse finished a well-beaten third. A pointer for the Euro challenge?

Friday night was spent back at Fort Lauderdale. Superb seafood restaurant right on the beach. White sand, palm trees, oysters, shrimp, lobster and chilled Chardonnay. This is the life.

Early start on the big day as 50,000 spectators expected. Relatively smooth journey to the track - in time for the opening ceremony. Rather a nice touch as a dozen or so jockeys are individually interviewed over the P.A. in front of the stands. This was followed by a very soulful rendition of the "Stars and Stripes" on a solo sax. Precisely as the saxophonist played his last note, three jets flew over the Park. Impressive timing.

Our seats were very close to the winning line. Sir Michael Stoute was sitting in the same section. Bit of a surprise to see him in the $60 seats!

The ten race card got underway with two non-Breeders' races. We stayed clear of these and waited for the Distaff. Silverbulletday starts favourite carries our support and finishes well down the field to Beautiful Pleasure. The "Crushing" team also draw a blank.

The "Crushing " team recommends a middle draw for the Juvenile Fillies. Cash Run leads all the way from the no1 box for a 32/1 success. Our selection is tailed off. Big European interest in the Mile (Turf) with Lend A Hand and Jim and Tonic. Frankie does best with a fourth place on the former.       

Middlesex Drive doesn't get away from his good draw and is always struggling. Our 'saver' Docksider  runs a great race to finish third having also been slowly away.

It's the Sprint next and Euro eyes are all on Stravinsky. Money as well as eyes as the 15/1 morning line price shrinks to 5/1. Finishes 6th to Artax. We'd backed Kona Gold in England - coupled each-way with Docksider at  big prices. Kona Gold is second, beaten only ½ length. The each-way double is landed but still no winners!

Dettori goes close in the next on Zomaradah (9/1) finishing third beaten less than a length. Soaring Softly, the favourite, wins from a poor draw. We stay loyal to A.O' Brien in the Juvenile and back Mull Of Kintyre at an attractive 30/1. The winner is 30/1 but it's Anees and Gary Stevens not our pick.

Time for the two feature races and a visit to the Paddock to see His Greyness. Even the Crushing creatures have pinpointed the chance of Daylami and he really looks the part. On the way back to our seats we run into Mike Dillon. "You were here in '89 weren't you?" he calls out to me. What a memory.
Daylami is only 6/4 on the track having been available at 3/1 in the U.K. Too skinny for us.

The 'Daylami Army' is out in force encouraging Frankie on the way to post. We're on Royal Anthem at 10/1 but there are no hard feelings as Frankie sweeps into the lead inside the final furlong to win comfortably from our selection.

The final race- the Classic- is won by the unconsidered (by us) Cat Thief. Peter backs Budroyale (26/1, 2nd ) and I back Almutawakel (7/1, 5th)  for a winner less day.  The so called experts are well adrift with two winning favourites in eight races - choosing three selections per race!

Returning to the U.K. on Monday, we examine closely  The Independent's picture of Dettori's dismount from Daylami. There we are, right in the middle of the picture,  soaking up the atmosphere of the World's greatest race day.

I've done my cash but at least I've got the T-shirt !

November 1999   

 Brother-in-law Peter, sister Jane and I look on as Frankie Dettori dismounts from Daylami.....