Noisemakers, drum circles, fans singing anthems, wearing the colors of their countries and waving national flags.
The Clasico Internacional del Caribe, the premier Thoroughbred event in Latin America and the Caribbean, arrived for the first time in 50 years in North America Saturday and it was a hit at Gulfstream Park.
The highlight of the five-race Clasico came just before 5 p.m., when the 3-year-old filly Jala Jala from Mexico carried jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to a nine-length victory over Panama's Fray Angelico and the Clasico del Caribe presented by Fasig-Tipton.
Horses participating in the Clasico Internacional del Caribe were from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Gulfstream was shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the day as on-track handle soared to $1.4 million compared to $947,000 over the corresponding Saturday last year. Total handle was $8.8 million, compared to $9.4 million the previous year. Total handle on the five Clasico races last year at Camarero was approximately $1 million, according to Camarero's President and Principle Owner Ervin Rodriguez.
“We were honored to host such an incredible event,” said Tim Ritvo, President of Gulfstream Park and COO of The Stronach Group. “This truly was the brainchild of our founder and honorary chairman Mr. Frank Stronach. This has been two years in the making. [The Stronach Group's President and Executive Board Member] Mike Rogers and myself traveled to Panama and Puerto Rico the last couple years in hopes of bringing the Clasico Internacional del Caribe to North America and Gulfstream Park, and the response was incredible. We hope to continue building on our partnership with the fans and horsemen from Latin America and the Caribbean and we thank them for participating.”
Gulfstream has been great, everything has been great,” Rodriguez said. “We've been very pleased with the entire organization at Gulfstream. Gulfstream has taken care of everyone. They have been wonderful.”
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