Gulfstream Park visitors are accustomed to seeing muscular Thoroughbreds sprint side-by-side down the Hallandale Beach track. But this month, a horse about half the size is drawing attention — by doing math on the second floor of the casino.
The horse is named Lucky Star, and is the subject of Gulfstream's Are You Smarter Than a Horse? promotion.
Gulfstream staffers call up 10 contestants every hour from noon through 4 p.m. Sundays in January. Each person takes a turn selecting an envelope, which reads, "add," "subtract" or "multiply." Then, the contestant rolls two dice.
Lucky Star then counts out the roll by tapping his hoof. If he gets it wrong, the contestant wins $250. If the horse is correct, the consolation prize is $100 in free play.
"With us being a horseracing facility, what better way to have a tie-in with the casino?" asks Jeremy Jakubowicz, Gulfstream's casino promotions manager. "We thought it was a good fit."
Lucky Star is owned by Heidi Herriott, a third-generation horse owner who grew up in Wisconsin but is based in Sarasota in the winter.
Animal acts have hit South Florida casinos before, most notably a chicken trained to play tic-tac-toe, which appeared at Mardi Gras Casino in 2010.
But when it comes to Gulfstream's question — Are you smarter than a horse? — humorist Will Rogers likely had the best response.
"You know horses are smarter than people," he said. "You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people."