If you’re tired of the same boring dinner and a movie for a date, an afternoon out at Gulstream Park is a fun alternative. And you can actually win money! My wife and I were shown a good time at the park by Vince Matthews, who is Miami’s ambassador for horse racing and whose job it is to raise awareness of the sport. The goal no doubt is to increase exposure, but it’s also to lower the median age of its fans. Living in south Florida, we’re fortunate to have several great tracks, something most of the rest of the country doesn’t have.
Okay, so I mentioned this being a pretty cool date. It is! Maybe not a first date lest one of you think the other is a degenerate gambler. I mean, I’m a degenerate gambler, but I’ve been with Mrs. Degenerate Gambler for six years. I have nothing to hide. Gulfstream’s Ten Palms Restaurant offers a yummy Sunday brunch for $35.00. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with Eggs Benedict, an omelet station, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and all manner of breads and bagels and pastries. Breakfast not your thing? (Weirdo). That’s no problem. They’ve also got carved turkey or ham, fried chicken, ribs, cocktail shrimp, lentil soup, and a variety of desserts such as flan, different puddings, tres leches, bread pudding, and the best cheesecake in the form of a cupcake I’ve ever had. A mimosa is included in the price, along with coffee, of course. Oh, and there’s fruit and salad, if you’re one of those people. What my wife and I did was eat breakfast and then lunch a few hours later (don’t judge us!). This is all perfectly fine with the wait staff, who are very attentive. They must’ve refilled my coffee and water ten times. So while you’re stuffing your face, you can watch the races from the restaurant which overlooks the track. Of course, you don’t have to get the brunch buffet while watching the races, but if you plan on being there any amount of time, get yourself some brunch.
If you go to the track just to watch the horses and not to gamble, then… Yeah right! You want to win money! It can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never wagered on horses before. I hadn’t. But everyone at Gulstream Park is really helpful and really patient. The most common wagers are Win, Place, and Show bets. Win means you’re betting on the horse to finish first. Place, first or second. Show, first, second, or third.
Payouts are based on what the Win price, Place price, and Show price, respectively, are. And these prices depend on the odds of a particular horse to win. For example, bet $2 on a horse with 10-1 odds and it wins, you win $20 plus your original $2. A horse with long odds, say 20-1, will make you more money, but there’s a reason they’re 20-1. The favorites, horses with the best odds, tend to win these races more often than the others. But just betting on favorites to win won’t make you much money, though there is something to be said for having a good time and not losing money.
In addition to these bets are more exotic kinds of wagers. You can wager on a particular horse to finish first and another horse to finish second. That’s called an Exacta. Or, you can bet on two horses to finish first and second, regardless of order. That’s called an Exacta Box. You can do this for three horses (Trifecta) and four horses (Superfecta) and so on. The payouts for these bets are really high, even on modest wagers, but the more horses involved, the more difficult it is for the best to come through. On this particular Sunday, the first race began at 1:15 PM. That’s called the post time. Races are measured in furlongs, which are equivalent to roughly 1/8 of a mile. All this information can be found in the daily program. Get yourself one. In there, you’ll find what time each race begins, the horses’ past performances, jockeys, trainers, owners, and all kinds of stuff. My wife and I pretty much stuck with the what horse names we like best route. Not the most profitable, but still fun.
Prior to the race, the horses are brought out from their stables to the fountain area for the public to see. In the third race, a maiden race (for horses who’ve never won a race), I notices a feisty three-year-old named Guarimbero who was giving his handler a heck of a time. I decided to bet $20 on him to win at 14-1 odds, and he did! By two lengths! Unfortunately, we weren’t as lucky on the other races, but still ended up with more money than when we’d started. I think a successful strategy for not losing would be to bet favorites to show. You won’t make much, but you won’t lose much, and you’ll be able to watch the races with a rooting interest. If you’ve ever wanted to go to the track, or you’re looking for a fun, different way of spending the day, visit Gulfstream Park. You won’t be disappointed.
The races are at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL and take place in the afternoons every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The first race is at 1:25 PM and the last race is at 5:30 PM.
Visit Gulfstream Park to find out more about the thoroughbred horse races, dining and their casino!