Need Not Be Present To Win — Here’s A Look At The Weekend’s Top Horse Races

Written By Dave Bontempo on February 12, 2022 - Last Updated on February 28, 2022
Betting on Horse races online

Ten horse races, all least at worth $100,000 — and one worth more than half a million — await nationwide online gamblers in the Saturday Spectacular, or Fecta-cular, as we dub a big weekend lineup.

What a card.

The multirace dynamic, powered by TVG, takes a concept once reserved for live racing at one location and presents an appealing multirace betting menu at several tracks.

Weekend wagering has expanded, thanks to technology

Long-time gamblers remember the days, especially at some small facilities, in which a $100,000 race was one of the two or three highlight events of the whole season.

Now, every race in this Saturday lineup can be a headliner. In addition, the access to multiple tracks at a time creates a gambling comfort zone for big bettors who want to wager on horses destined for higher-level races.

These are the races where owners and trainers point their best horses. As a result, gamblers in these races feel secure about getting a solid run from their horse, as opposed to low-level events in which the thoroughbreds are inconsistent.

Major horse races happening on Saturday, Feb. 12

Oaklawn has the $600,000 Razorback. It also packs a surprise for bettors with the rescheduled $250,000 Bayakoa. It was supposed to occur last weekend, but a major storm closed the track and post positions were redrawn Monday.

Tampa Bay Downs offers the $250,000 Sam F. Davis, the $150,000 Suncoast races and the $100,000 Pelican.

Aqueduct (the Gander), Turfway Park (Valdade), Santa Anita (Sweet Life) and Gulfstream Park (Ladies Sprint and Turf Sprint) all present $100,000 events.

Breaking down the Razorback at Oaklawn Park

The race is scheduled for a 5:56 p.m. EST post time. (Always check; these can change slightly.)

Razorback presents an exciting field of horses who have appeared in Triple Crown races, recently gotten hot and others who have been consistent.

Here is a sneak peek at the nine horses entered as of Thursday for the race, along with announced post positions.

No. 1 Popular Kid draws the rail. He is looking at long odds coming off a win in the $102,000 Jeffrey Hawk Memorial at Thistledown last November.

No. 2 Super Stock. Remember him from the Kentucky Derby last year, where he was 16th? At the $150,000 Poinsettia last December, he ran a game second to Last Samurai, giving a solid effort in an all-out stretch duel. Last Samurai will compete with him again in this race.

No. 3 Lone Rock has won 6 of 7, including a nice victory in the $200,000 Tinsel at Oaklawn. He got through traffic in the final turn, darted to the inside and outkicked the field in a good race.

No. 4 Rated R Superstar. What’s up with this suddenly vibrant 9-year-old? He made a great move at 17-1 and finished third in the Cornhusker Stakes last year, won by Knicks Go. Then, in the $150,000 Fifth Season at Oaklawn last month, he surged to win at 25-1. He also beat Thomas Shelby and Silver Prospector, who are both in this race. Unfortunately, Rated R Superstar runs late and will need pace to set it up.

No. 5 Promise Keeper held a narrow lead midstretch at the $500,000 Ohio Derby last year but was overtaken and finished fourth. He comes in off a layoff of several months and may have an early speed battle with Thomas Shelby, who usually likes the front.

No. 6 Thomas Shelby looks to be a speed factor. But, on the other hand, if he can’t get the lead by himself, he could be in some trouble. Previously, he ran into a contentious duel in the Fifth Season and has lost to others in this race.

No. 7 Last Samurai won the Poinsettia at Oaklawn. A nice statement. Can he go a couple of notches higher?

No. 8 Plainsman executed an excellent performance as a 19-1 long shot to get third in the $750,000 Cigar Mile. He squeezed off in the stretch and bumped with eventual winner American Revolution. A similar effort would put him in a very good spot here. That’s why he’s one of the early favorites.

No. 9 Silver Prospector was beaten by Rated R Superstar in the Fifth Season.

Based on the purse level of previous races, Promise Keeper, Plainsman and Lone Rock have juggled the role of lukewarm favorites. The others come in off a similar but lower level of races. However, they counter with the advantage of having raced over this track.

A note about the $250,000 horse races

The Bayakoa, 4:47 p.m. EST

This race is for fillies and mares. Brad Cox has recently dominated this domain, winning four of Oaklawn’s last five two-turn stakes races for older females. Bettors will keep that in mind as Cox saddles favored Coach and second-favored Matera. Coach comes off a win in the Pippin last month at Oaklawn.

The Sam F. Davis, 4:54 p.m. EST

Wide-open field. Thirteen entries were listed on Thursday. It looks like no one should be an odds-on favorite. Excellent betting race. Ten-cent superfecta keys, $1 trifecta keys and good value on the win line mark an event that should produce prices.

Bombs Away — Or maybe it’s loud firecrackers

Long shot bettors may not have crushed it last weekend, but there are two ways to look at that.
When the odds are short, it means the favorites have done well, and bettors who like to back their horses heavily cashed in. It also leads to wagers like higher exacta boxes — $5 or $10 — because the gamblers are confident of their top horse running well.

Ironically, the salute to long shots occurs in a race captured by a big favorite. The Withers at Aqueduct rewarded both the chalk and long shot bettors last Saturday.

At 9-5, Early Voting proved to be an exceptional horse and wired the field.

Un Ojo, a live 20-1 dog, finished second and nosed out Gilded Age, who finished third. However, both of them made sense underneath.

Fourth place went to Grantham.

The $2 superfecta paid $5,165. That means the 10-cent superfecta paid more than $258, a superb return with a favorite in the top spot. Many bettors earned by putting Early Voting over a few horses. They may have even placed him second. This was one of the best bang-for-the-buck values of the entire weekend.

Gulfstream: The hot jocks

Luis Saez is having a tremendous meet, with 82 winners. Paco Lopez and Tayler Gaffalione both have 47. Junior Alvarado has 39.

Perennial leading rider Irad Ortiz, making the most of his return from a riding suspension, has the best winning percentage of 59%. Saez is second with 52%.

Saez and Ortiz earned more than $3 million during the meet. However, Ortiz is poised to surpass Saez.
Regardless of those numbers, all the leading jockeys are being played confidently by bettors.

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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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