HALLANDALE BEACH  – Gulfstream Park lowered the curtain on its 2023-2024 Championship Meet on March 31 with Saffie Joseph Jr. taking home trainer honors.

Joseph collected his third straight Championship Meet training title following an 18-year reign by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who finished second with 37 winners including Invigorated. Joseph won with Classify ($4.20) in Race 9 to finish with 66 wins and more than $3.4 million in purse earnings.

Seven of Joseph’s wins came in stakes including O’Connor (Chi) in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3), Florida-bred Champion R Harper Rose in the Forward Gal (G3) and Honor D Lady in the Royal Delta (G3). He also ran second in the $1 million Florida Derby with Kentucky Derby (G1)-bound Catalytic, owned by Ocala-based Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George G. Isaacs.

Joseph led Gulfstream with 58 wins in 2021-2022 and 47 victories in 2022-2023. Pletcher still holds the Championship Meet record with 72 wins in 2017-2018.

“The three titles – each one feels better than the other,” Joseph said. “We’re thankful for the opportunities from the owners, the team we have – how hard they work and all the effort they put in – and most importantly to have the horses we have. The horses are the biggest piece of the puzzle. The horses make everyone look good.” 

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, an Ocala native, won three races Sunday with Boomin’ Belle ($11.20) in Race 8, Miss Speedy ($19.20) in Race 10 and Creed’s Gold ($21.80) in Race 11, to finish third in trainer standings with 30 wins.

Joseph will also be honored at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association annual gala in Ocala on April 15, as the 2023 leading trainer of Florida-breds by earnings with $2,038,032. He also is being co-honored as the leading trainer of Florida-breds with black-type wins with four, tied with Jose D’Angelo. He is also the leading trainer in Florida-bred wins with 49, tied with both D’Angelo and 19-time FTBOA award winning trainer of Florida-breds Kathleen O’Connell. 

 Ken Ramsey claimed the owner title with 27 winners. Among them were Joseph-trained Be My Sunshine in the Tropical Park Oaks and Abrumar in the Colonel Liam. Ramsey previously led the owner standings in 2021-2022, 2019-2020 and from 2012-2013 to 2017-2018.

Gulfstream Park will open the Royal Palm Meet with an eight-race program Thursday, April 3 starting at 1:10 p.m.

Return to the April 2 issue of Wire to Wire