Girls and horses?
That's a license to print money.
Always has been, always will be.
Secretariat by William Nack
And featuring the return of Fred Thompson to feature films!
Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, winning by 25 lengths to win the Triple Crown
Amanda "AJ" Michalka - "It's Who You Are" Music Videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kShUvrr7QVU
Above, the Gulfstream Park street sign for the north-south road from the grandstand to Hallandale Beach Blvd., and the north entrance monument sign on U.S.-1/South Federal Highway.
October 5, 2010 photos by South Beach Hoosier.
I've been thinking about this Secretariat film quite a lot the last few weeks as I walk or drive thru the empty NW parking lot of Gulfstream Park Race Track, not far from my home, which I take as a short-cut when doing errands, grabbing something to eat at one of my usual spots or heading over to the beach, which is less than two miles away.
(Anything to avoid the notorious red-light surveillance camera on north-bound U.S.-1 at Hallandale Beach Blvd., which the HB City Commission installed, supposedly, for safety purposes, but which has turned-out to be nothing but a cash cow for the city's coffers, as well over 95% of all tickets issued thus far are for right turn on red violations, NOT for running the intersection, the purpose cited. Because of local area driver's great reluctance to turn too quickly now, east-bound traffic is often stalled for two or three blocks along U.S.-1, with no alternatives open to you but the race track short-cut.
Despite the public disclosure of the statistics, financial and otherwise -city revenue from citations for the month of July 2010 for that one camera was $119,613.987, of which the overwhelming majority were for right turn on red violations- the HB City Commission doesn't care, and is now expanding the use of red-light cameras. Not for safety purposes, mind you, but strictly to get their hands on more money! It's that simple!)
October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Looking east at the three Gulfstream Park dorms, and in the distance, on the beach at A1A, the three condos that comprise The Beach Club complex.
As always, I have my trusty camera with me, ever-ready to snap a shot that captures my fancy. But after several years of being back in South Florida, after being so long up in the Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas, having been so geographically close to this race track, being in or near it every single day fro seven years, I almost have come to take it for granted.
The same way I became blase walking from my home on Capitol Hill at night during the summer, after I first moved to Washington in 1988, to nearby places you may have heard of.
First past the U.S. Capitol, along the pathways of The National Mall, past the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, past the Washington Monument and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 'till I was finally at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Even when it's hot as hell during the summer at night, which is always since there's no Gulfstream breeze, the place is so magnetic, the sense of history so strong and palpable, that it's hard not to get wistful, reflective and philosophical.
For the first few years I lived in the Washington area, it was all so terribly exciting, but eventually, the excitement of the history that is all around me turns into a rather mundane routine, except for when friends and family came to visit and it became alive for me all over again, especially when I was with my adorable nieces, who lived in suburban Maryland.
The everyday existence and hustle -and sheer tension- of living in the Washington, D.C. area really wears you out, so after awhile, once I'd moved across the Potomac to Arlington County (VA), since I wasn't one of those person with a summer house share in Delaware, every so often, when I was free on weekends, I started going with friends down to Charlottesville and other places in Virginia where the sense and pull of America's early history is still both strong and palpable. (Or out thru the hills to West Virgina.)
I've always liked being in places where I couldn't take things for granted, though to be sure, every time I ever walked past The White House on the Pennsylvania Avenue side, so many thousands and thousands of times over those 15 years, I never took THAT view for granted.
But I saw plenty of people who did, and I never wanted to be one of those people.
So, all that being said, and knowing that I'm someone who has always been a voracious reader and a person who particularly loves history, and American cultural history at that, one of my biggest disappointments living here in Hallandale Beach has been witnessing the way the current owners of Gulfstream Race Track, MAGNA Entertainment, have allowed some of its history, beauty and majesty to recede.
See a glimpse of what the race track once looked like at:
October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Looking south from the NW parking lot towards the grandstand and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex.
Churchill Downs would never tolerate the way things are routinely done here, and neither would Disney or Universal or any other consumer-oriented attraction that wants visitors to spend money.
I suppose that's precisely why I get so very angry when I see how poorly-maintained parts of the admittedly huge facility are, and how unattractively it presents itself to visitors.
It's almost like the MAGNA people take it for granted that people will come.
But they aren't, are they?
Nope, the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex is far from a success, yet at least some of the reasons for that discomforting reality could hardly be more obvious.
Personally, as I've previously written here, I can't fathom how you could own that place and allow a large Gulfstream Park advertising sign that you have that is visible to busy U.S.-1 traffic to be unlit at night for years, yet they do.
I've shown you photos of that very sign here many times, haven't I, as well as the plant overgrowth that obstructed some of the signage?
It's not a secret, it's common knowledge.
I've often written in this space about my litany of well-founded criticisms of Gulfstream Park, complete with my photos to highlight and buttress my contentions, self-evident facts that have been well-nigh invisible to the very people who actually ought to have been MOST concerned with what customers actually thought about them: MAGNA Entertainment.
Yet they continue to be blasé and ignore what is right in front of them, seemingly content to have nobody in charge of Quality Control, someone able to whip the place into shape so that consumers find it inviting and interesting and FUN.
It simply isn't ANY FUN at all.
It's the opposite of fun -it repels!
That months-old promise I made here once to discuss some constructive suggestions for improving things at Gulfstream Park will finally be posted soon, along with some helpful aids to hammer those points home.
But I wanted to say now while I could that my genuine hope is that the great success of the Secretariat film will do something -anything!- to shake the MAGNA folks out of their sleepwalking stupor, and realize once and for all that if they aren't in it to win, they need to sell the place to someone who will manage this historic facility with the foresight, intelligence, care and marketing savvy it deserves.
All of those factors are currently MIA.
I'll also have a lot to say soon about the prospects of night racing at Gulfstream Park, too, as I've been sitting on that subject since last year while getting more and more information from reliable sources.
Though I am personally in favor of a racing schedule that includes limited night racing, as usual, the folks at MAGNA are completely f-ing botching this possibility thru their careless words and actions, seemingly oblivious to their need to first communicate openly and honestly with the citizens and communities most directly affected: Hallandale Beach, Aventura, Hollywood and Broward County.
They haven't done that.
Frankly, MAGNA operates like all they need to do to secure the ability to hold night racing is to curry favor with enough Florida State Senators, esp. those from the Panhandle, perhaps thru their favorite lobbyists, and magically, after they snap their fingers, it'll just happen.
For starters, the reality is that are looking at first having to hold lots of public meetings, and they are going to have to completely STOP with the transparent half-truths and lies, and actually level with the citizens who already live near here.
Night racing is NOT something that MAGNA is entitled to have simply for asking for it.
Personally, I'm starting to believe that the best thing for everyone concerned would be for there to be no night racing at Gulfstream Park until after MAGNA sells the race track and associated property to an entity with the financial resources to run it in a creative, first-class manner, so that it really is a FUN place to be.
That is NOT what Gulfstream Park is now.