Celebrities pack a sneak peek of the Carousel Club at Gulfstream Park

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Feb 02, 2022 7:00 AM

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El DeBarge, DJ Cassidy, Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, Jadakiss and Ja Rule in the Carousel Club at the 2022 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 29, 2022. The horse racing event also gave the first sneak peek of the trackside hotspot, Carousel Club, which will open to the public on Feb. 18.

El DeBarge, DJ Cassidy, Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease, Jadakiss and Ja Rule in the Carousel Club at the 2022 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 29, 2022. The horse racing event also gave the first sneak peek of the trackside hotspot, Carousel Club, which will open to the public on Feb. 18. (Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images / Courtesy)

Famous faces joined the horse-racing set at Hallandale Beach’s Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino Saturday night.

Ensconced in the new Carousel Club — a trackside “open-air gathering spot” — were the likes of:

  • Recording artists and performers Evan Ross, Ashlee Simpson, Nicole Scherzinger, DJ D-Nice and Swae.
  • Sports celebs included Scott Perry (New York Knicks general manager) and Davon Godchaux (New England Patriots).
  • And of course “The Real Housewives of Miami’s” Marysol Patton and Alexia Echevarria were spotted.

Celebrities and VIPs in the Carousel Club at the 2022 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. The horse racing event also gave the first sneak peek of the trackside hotspot, Carousel Club, which will open to the public on Feb. 18.

Celebrities and VIPs in the Carousel Club at the 2022 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. The horse racing event also gave the first sneak peek of the trackside hotspot, Carousel Club, which will open to the public on Feb. 18. (Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images / Courtesy)

The main event was the Pegasus World Cup, but vying for attention was a sneak peek of the Carousel Club (which will officially open the weekend of Feb. 18-20) complete with a splashy soirée spotlighting DJ Cassidy’s “Pass The Mic” performance.

For the uninitiated, “Pass The Mic” is best known as a videotaped coda to the Soul Train Awards and the BET Awards, where hip hop/r&b acts sing snippets of their hits to a seamless groove before passing the “microphone” to the next performer.

For a first-time-ever live production of the music series, Ja Rule, Lil’ Kim, Mase, El DeBarge, Lil’ Cease and Jadakiss joined DJ Cassidy on a stage custom designed for the show with a multiple-level layout of LED screens.

So what is the Carousel Club?

To get an idea of exactly what Carousel Club is all about, it helps to know that Gulfstream Park partnered with the people behind The Wharf, the popular riverside al fresco dining/entertainment destinations in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

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Like those venues, Carousel Club will take advantage of the subtropical climate with open-sided covered patio and courtyard spaces as well as lounge seating under tree canopies and deck umbrellas. The venue will be open whether there is a race going on or not.

Emi Guerra — of Breakwater Hospitality Group with a food and beverage stable that includes the Wharfs, Rivertail, Ch’i, the upcoming Pier 5 and the reopening of John Martin’s Irish Pub & Restaurant — says the name came to them while touring Gulfstream Park.

A rendering of the Carousel Club at Gulfstream Park, which is scheduled to open to the public Feb. 18.

A rendering of the Carousel Club at Gulfstream Park, which is scheduled to open to the public Feb. 18. (Studio Collective / Courtesy)

“We saw this old carousel, the same carousel you see now [atop the main bar],” recalls Guerra, who co-owns Breakwater with Alex Mantecon. “It was packaged up, but we knew there was something there. [Gulfstream Park has] a great engineering and construction team that made it happen.”

Talks started prior to the pandemic, and work began around February 2020 to transform what was a non-descript event space next to the grandstand into a “bungalow chic” space where elevated revolving restaurant pop-ups and craft cocktail stations will sit alongside lounge seating, video screens and live entertainment.

As of now, Spris Artisan Pizza, Los Altos Taqueria and Ms. Cheezious have signed on as vendors.

“We have venues in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, but this is right in the middle,” adds Guerra. “There is somewhat of a void in this particular area for quality entertainment in the [food and beverage] space. Carousel Club is not only different and eye-catching, but it will feel warm and at the same [time] be exciting to see and very unique.”

  • Guerra says that for now the plan is to not have a cover charge when Carousel Club opens to the public Feb. 18-20. “It would be free to walk in,” he says.
  • Initially, the venue will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Eventually Thursdays will be added.
  • The open-air lounge plans on opening around noon and closing at 2 or 3 a.m. “However, after dark, say after 6 p.m., it would be strictly 21 and over to enter,” says Guerra.
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