Gulfstream opened on Feb. 1, 1939 as a horse track.

Eighty years later, the thoroughbreds still race. But you may know the Hallandale Beach complex as much for its casino, concerts, shops and restaurants these days.

Through the years, Gulfstream has tried to branch out from its horse-racing roots. In the 1990s, the track hosted family days with kiddie rides and free oldies concerts with Kool and the Gang, America and Christopher Cross.

About 10 years ago, a casino opened, with slot machines and card rooms. Then came a village of shops and cafes.

As the home of the Florida Derby turns 80, here is a look back from the Miami Herald archives at some of the milestones, including an aquarium flood, a giant winged horse, and the forgotten rock music festival that was a precursor to Woodstock.

A LOCAL WOODSTOCK

Published Aug. 9, 2009

Michael Lang was frantic. His first big production, the Miami Pop Festival, was about to go down in flames on opening day. As Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention tore into their set at Gulfstream Race Track in Hallandale, Lang realized that members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, scheduled to go on next, were missing.

“We tracked them down through the airline and got a hold of Gerry Stickells, who was Jimi’s road manager,” Lang recalls from his home in upstate New York. “Apparently they had missed the pick-up cars. So we arranged for a helicopter to come and get them.”

“That was a surprise to everybody,” says photographer Ken Davidoff, then 19. Armed with a press pass from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department, Davidoff snapped pictures of the dapper Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell as they scooted under the rotor blades of a chopper and made their way toward the stage set up on a flatbed truck.

“It was a precursor to our hiring every helicopter in New York state next time around,” Lang says. Next time would occur 15 months later when almost half a million music lovers converged on a farm in Bethel, N.Y., for the cultural and generational milestone known as Woodstock. When the roads to the festival site became clogged with traffic, Lang, one of four organizers, once again called out the choppers to deliver his headliners. The “Aquarian Exposition,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, made Lang a counter-culture icon.

With defining performances by Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Santana chronicled on film and vinyl, Woodstock still enjoys mythic status in the history of American music. Less well known: Had there been no Miami Pop Festival, which drew more than 40,000, there might have been no Woodstock. Also less well known: The seeds for both events were planted at a head shop in Coconut Grove.

Javier Castellano rides City of Light across the finish line to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano celebrates as he rides City of Light to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano celebrates as he rides City of Light to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano celebrates in the winners circle after he rides City of Light to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano celebrates in the winners circle after he rides City of Light to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Grammy Award winning rapper, singer and producer Snoop Dogg arrives on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Jockey Irad Ortiz celebrates in the winners circle after he rides Bricks and Mortar to win the first running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Irad Ortiz celebrates as he rides Bricks and Mortar to win the first running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Grammy Award winning rapper, singer and producer Snoop Dogg shows his grill work on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano rides City of Light as they approach the finish line to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Irad Ortiz rides Bricks and Mortar to win the first running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Javier Castellano celebrates as he rides City of Light to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Colombian actress, Ariadna Gutierrez, arrives during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Boxing champion Evander Holyfield arrives on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Boxing champion Evander Holyfield arrives on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Dennis Rodman, retired professional basketball player, arrives on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz Dennis Rodman, retired professional basketball player, arrives on the blue carpet during Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitation Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, January 26, 2019. AL DIAZ adiaz 1 of 17 i Related content

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