Gulfstream Park commenced its inaugural meet on February 1, 1939.
In 1952 the Florida Derby was added to the stakes schedule, a clubhouse was built and grandstand seating was expanded. In 1981 Gulfstream became the first Florida track to crack the $100 million wagering plateau with a state record handle of $103,531,722 for a 50-day winter meeting. The one-day wagering mark also fell on Florida Derby Day (March 6) with mutuels of $4,090,109. In addition, Super Six with Jackpot and Early Bird betting features were instituted. In 1994 Gulfstream enjoyed the most successful meeting in Florida history. For the 62 days, the total from all sources (commingled and non-commingled) was $560,962,021. Holy Bull won the Florida Derby and would go on to be named Horse of the Year.
1995 was the year of Cigar as he won the Donn Handicap and the Gulfstream Park handicap en route to an undefeated season and Horse of the Year honors. 1996 saw records broken as total handle was over $663 million during the 64 day meet. Cigar continued his record setting streak winning the Donn Handicap again. Cigars streak would stretch to 16 straight. 1997 saw t he introduction of full-card simulcasting that helped Gulfstream set records in average daily handle total commingled handle, on-track handle, ITW handle and ISW handle. A magnificent life-size bronze statue of Cigar was unveiled on “A Salute to Cigar Day” Feb. 2. In 2001 Monarchos put in a dominating performance in the Florida Derby and then later that year won the Kentucky Derby. 2005 saw the amazing Lost in the Flog romp in the Ocala Stud Dash but he was upset in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Classic.