Horse Racing

Gulfstream Park set to host historic race for first time on U.S. soil

A field of 12 horses from such countries as Panama, Venezuela and Mexico are set to vie Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the Clasico del Caribe.
A field of 12 horses from such countries as Panama, Venezuela and Mexico are set to vie Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the Clasico del Caribe. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A race that for 50 years was contested at thoroughbred tracks in Latin America and the Caribbean will be hosted on U.S. soil for the first time Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

A full field of 12 horses from such countries as Panama, Venezuela and Mexico are set to vie in the Clasico del Caribe, a 1 1/8-mile stakes with a purse of $300,000. It’s one of five stakes on the card featuring horses based in the region.

“It’s an incredible and historic event for Thoroughbred racing,” said Gulfstream general manager Bill Badgett. “It will be a great day of racing and entertainment. After six 2-year-old stakes for horses based in North America, we will feature the Clasico Internacional del Caribe in a truly spectacular way.”

Hugo Albarran, president of the Confederation of Caribbean Racetracks, said: “It’s historical. It’s the first time in 50 years the race will be held in a country that’s not a member [of the Confederation]. We’ll make Florida part of Latin America.”

Highlighting the card is the Clasico del Caribe, a long-standing event involving 3-year-olds. El Cubita, a Panamanian colt, is listed as a slight 3-1 favorite over 7-2 choice Justiciero from Puerto Rico.

Justiciero, as well as stablemate Platino, will be representing the devastated island.

“It’s been a tough year for Puerto Rico,” said Mark Tacher, owner of the two horses. “Justiciero and Platino represent the island and we’re looking for a good race for both horses. A victory would mean so much for the people of Puerto Rico, We can only pray and hope.”

The “Clasico Internacional del Caribe” program Saturday at Gulfstream also includes four other stakes with star horses from Latin America. Among them: the 1 1/4-mile Copa Confraternidad del Caribe involving horses 3 years old and up. The $100,000 stakes features two previous winners of the Clasico del Caribe, 2015 winner Calincio and last year’s winner, El Tigre Mono.

Gulfstream’s 11-race card also features six races set aside for 2-year-olds based in North America.

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