Top Jockeys And Trainers Coast To Coast Are Warming Up For A Saturday Fecta-cular All Around

Written By Dave Bontempo on February 4, 2022 - Last Updated on February 27, 2022

A sweet Saturday betting festival awaits the thoroughbred horse racing community with the weekend race lineup.

Opportunity stretches from Gulfstream Park in Florida to Santa Anita in California, and from Aqueduct in New York to Oaklawn in Arkansas, it’s a nationwide betting carnival gamblers can access via TVG.

Several graded races, many in the $200-250,000 range, offer high-quality horses. Large numbers of entries in other races make exceptional payoffs possible.

Let’s start with the action at Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream highlights a strong card with the $250,000 Holy Bull.

The Hallandale, Fla. track, which fashions a noon EST post time, also unfurls a collection of $100,000 races:

  • Claiborne
  • Kitten’s Joy
  • Sweetest Chant
  • Forward Gal

Gulfstream Jockey Overview: Louie, Louie

Or is it Luis, Luis? Whichever pronunciation people prefer for popular Gulfstream leading jockey Luis Saez, he’s been on fire.

Saez entered the week leading with a mammoth 77 victories. Next came a pack with Paco Lopez at 43 and Tyler Gaffalione at 42. Junior Alvarado entered with 34 triumphs and Emisael Jaramillo sported 23.

For gamblers who like exacta and trifecta wagering, Saez is hitting in the money at a 53% clip. Lopez, Gaffalione and Alvarado also have been effective at just under 50%.

Saez entered the week as the leading rider with just over $2.9 million in earnings. Lopez, Gaffalione and Alvarado all hovered in the $1.7-1.8 million dollar range. Jaramillo was closing in on $900,000.

Irad Ortiz, Gulfstream’s perennial leading rider, has shaken off the effects of an earlier suspension. He’s been Mr. Money, snaring more than $2.6 million in just 48 starts. Ortiz is making more than $50,000 per start and has begun to hit high gear.

Trainer Overview: Pletcher Ruling the Roost

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Life Is Good — who won the $3 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 29 — would figure to be the leading money trainer, and he is. Pletcher entered the week with $3.8 million in earnings, well above the field.

Saffie Joseph Jr., who leads the circuit in victories, hit midweek at $1.5 million in earnings. No other trainer has reached seven figures.

Here’s a nugget for exotics players: Jose D’Angelo, who doesn’t enter many horses, is nonetheless 30-for-47 in the money when he does. That’s 64%. Jorge Delgado, another trainer with limited entries, was 27-for-54, 50% in the money. You may see their horses at a price to possibly sneak into the exacta, trifecta and superfecta picture.

Bombs Away, Our Regular Salute to Long Shots

Gulfstream seemingly has one every weekend. Well, here are two.

In Sunday’s eighth race, 1 1/6 miles on the turf, a torrid early pace laid the ground for closers.
Coleridge, at 6-1, made up nearly a dozen lengths and prevailed. Roadtriptonowhere, 19-1, got a perfect late trip to catch early pacesetter, Sosua Summer, at the wire and get second. The $2 exacta won $301.

Sosua Summer got third at 7-1, wrapping up a $1 trifecta paying $889. Curbstone, the 9-5 favorite, held fourth. The $1 superfecta paid a sharp $3,476.

Interesting fact: the race was set up for stalker Bandimere, the favorite at 2-1. He was in perfect position but was outhustled by the other late runners and finished fifth.

Gulfstream’s first Saturday race continues to impress with long shots hitting the board. In this case, it was a horse that finished second.

With 5-2 favorite Yamato prevailing, 40-1 bomb Strike Appeal came in second. He nudged 5-1 shot American Ninja in third and 10-1 shot Strike the Top in fourth.

The $2 exacta paid $355, the $1 trifecta was a sweet $1,211 and the $1 superfecta paid $12,203.

The race contained the logistics for a nice payout: big fields, no clear-cut favorite and prices in the second and fourth positions.

Although it’s expensive to chase $1 superfectas, this also paid well as a 10-center at $1,220. One good angle on the 10-cent market is to take $12 and put any horse you like in the first and second positions with five other horses. Sometimes, the 10-cent payouts are paltry. On other occasions, like this one, they pay big. Either way, this is an inexpensive alternative to a major investment.

Santa Anita offers up a full menu for chalk and long shot bettors

This is quite a package of races originating at 3:30 p.m. EST.

There are three graded stakes with small fields and some lower-purse races with gigantic fields earmarking potential strong exotics payouts.

The $100,000 Thunder Road opens the card with a field of six. Race favorite Subconscious drops down in company and from 1 1/8 miles to 1 mile after being run down in the stretch and missing the board at the Grade I Hollywood Derby last year.

Bettors will recognize the prohibitive favorite in race 6 for the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes. Cee Cee, who rallied to a convincing Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint triumph at 6-1 on Nov. 6, is back.

In race 8, the $200,000 San Pasqual, race favorites Express Train and Law Professor enter off graded-stakes triumphs. Spielberg, the third choice, won an optional claiming race in his last. So did American Theorem. Eight Rings will get played off of a narrow loss to Express Train in the San Antonio Stakes last year.

That’s the chalk end of the card.

What about our Bombs Away possibilities at this track?

They meet the initial criteria in three other races. The fourth is maiden-claiming $30,000. These horses haven’t won. It’s very hard to establish a favorite, especially among a 10-horse field.

Race 7, allowance optional claiming $80,000, has some higher-quality horses and an 11-horse field. Good values are here.

The ninth is a $20,000 optional-claiming free-for-all with 13 horses entered. Check back before the race to see how many actually will go. The ingredients for a big payday are there.

This card, with top-level horses in one set of races and big fields in another, offers something for all types of bettors.

Santa Anita Standings

Leading jockeys earnings

Flavien Prat, $2.4 million
Juan Hernandez, 1.4 million
John Velazquez, $1.3 million
Abel Cedillo, $843,000
Umberto Rispoli, $735,000

Leading trainers earnings

Bob Baffert, $1.27 million
Phillip D’Amato, $882,000
Doug O’Neill, $852,000
Richard Baltas, $704,000
Michael McCarthy, $697,000

Aqueduct withers Headlines nine-race card

Not only is the card that starts at 12:50 p.m. EST loaded with big fields, so is the big race at 4:25 p.m.

This has 11 entries and the early favorites, Constitutionlawyer and Early Voting, are coming off maiden-level victories into a $250,000 race. They are lightly raced and thus earmarked for big things.
Courvoisier will merit respect off a nice win in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes on a sloppy track. If weather becomes a factor, he’ll get even more play.

Even if the favorites dominate, a price horse should get into this trifecta or superfecta mix.

Oaklawn throws in a big purse

Coach headlines the $250,000 Bayakoa by virtue of gaining a victory at the track on Jan. 8. He prevailed in the $150,000 Pippin on a sloppy surface. Matera finished second in the Grade 3 Chilukki at Churchill Downs last fall.

A field of seven goes post at 6:10 p.m. EST.

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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