The horse-racing industry is catching its breath after last weekend’s Belmont blockbuster.
Belmont Park, which poured more than $6 million into its Belmont Stakes card to preserve its stature last week, produced “only” in the neighborhood of $750,000 on Saturday. That still puts the Elmont, NY, establishment near the top of the heap this week.
Churchill Downs provides an excellent Saturday evening card, while Monmouth Park in New Jersey has one of its top programs of the year with a Haskell Stakes preview. Both tracks sprinkle more than $ 1 million throughout their cards, which is accessible to nationwide bettors via TVG.
A roundup of tracks, a couple of rousing success stories in our weekly “Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots” segment, and some potential long shot payoffs I’ll call “Bonanza Bait” mark our tour of the racing circuit this week.
Belmont shows variety
Belmont’s prime event Saturday is the $250,000 Poker Stakes, Race 6. Gamblers will like the quality of racing but not the betting variety. There are only five horses.
Otherwise, Belmont finishes with three big fields.
Monmouth Park — Guess who’s back? It’s Hot Rod Charlie
Bettors last saw him get second in the $12 million Dubai World Cup in March, a great effort in another big race. The Hot Rod always runs the game. He’s looking more and more like the modern-day Alydar, who finished a close second to Triple Crown-winning Affirmed three times in 1978.
Hot Rod Charlie has been nosed out by Essential Quality in the Breeders Cup and Belmont Stakes, Mandaloun in the Kentucky Derby, and fate in the Haskell Stakes last summer. He won the big race at Monmouth Park but was disqualified for clipping heels at Midnight Bourbon.
He’s back in the Salvator at Monmouth, which could be his last race before the Breeders’ Cup.
Hot Rod Charlie is part of a big preview day at Monmouth Park.
Three graded stakes races and the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds highlight a 14-race card on Saturday for Monmouth Park’s inaugural TVG.com Haskell Stakes Preview Day.
The $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, at a 1 1/16 mile, serves as Monmouth Park’s prep race for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 23.
Headlining the Haskell Stakes Preview Day, besides the Pegasus
- The Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile
- The Grade 3, $150,000 Eatontown Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 mile on the turf
- The Grade 3, $150,000 Monmouth Stakes at 1 1/8 mile on the turf
The four stakes races will go as the final four races on the card as part of an all-stakes Pick 4.
“Clearly, this is the best card we have put on this year and one of the best in quite some time across all divisions,” said John Heims, Monmouth Park’s director of racing and racing secretary. “If Haskell Preview Day turns out as we expect, it should make for a blockbuster Haskell Day.”
Here is an inside-the-races overview from Monmouth Park officials:
Joe Bravo, Monmouth Park’s 13-time riding champion, is listed to ride on the card, as are out-of-towners Florent Geroux, Manny Franco, Jose Lezcano, Mike Smith, and John Velazquez.
The Pegasus Stakes has drawn a field of nine, including the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew; recent Long Branch Stakes winner Dash Attack, trained by Ken McPeek; and Electability from Chad Brown’s barn.
A dozen starters are listed for the Monmouth Stakes, including the Danny Gargan-trained Tax, a multiple graded stakes winner, and Hidden Stash, who was on the Triple Crown trail last year.
Eight are entered for the Eatontown Stakes, including last year’s race winner Vigilantes Way. Other contenders include Whimsical Muse, who won the Miss Liberty Stakes for trainer Kelly Breen on May 30 at Monmouth Park, and Chad Brown trainees Lemista and Fluffy Socks.
West Coast action at Santa Anita
Santa Anita, with a first post time of 4 p.m. EDT, steps up with three sharp events:
- The $100,000 Debutante
- The $200,000 Santa Maria
- The $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity
Bonanza Bait — breeding grounds for “The Big Hit”
(all times noted are Eastern)
Belmont — 1 p.m. post
There are 10 horses listed for a $92,000 race in the seventh, 12 for an $80,000 allowance contest in the ninth, and a 10-horse finale with a purse of $90,000 in the 10th. These purses are reasonably good and should attract a good level of contestants. It will be hard to find a standout.
Gulfstream Park — first post 12:30 p.m.
There are no big races at Gulfstream this week. However, there are big fields in races one, six, nine, and 12.
Bettors will pay attention to Gulfstream’s big fields. The Florida track produced a pair of $2 superfectas that combined for more than $75,000 in a three-race span last Saturday.
The quality of racing may be so-so, but gamblers will bet long shots with confidence.
Laurel Park — first post 12:40 p.m.
Race 8 is five and a half furlongs on turf, maiden special weight, with a field of 13. It has the look and feels of considerable money. Gamblers will give that a hard look.
Woodbine — first post 1:10 p.m.
Race 10 has three components long shot players love: a big field of 11, maiden claiming company, and turf.
Horses at these levels are either overrated or take turns beating each other. Gamblers will try to get a feel for which of them look eligible to improve.
Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots
Gulfstream gobbles it up
It was telephone-number-length payouts in the sixth and eighth races last Saturday at the Hallandale, Fla., oval.
Miss Youniverse took advantage of a good stalking position to win at 25-1. Favored Capridrey had traffic problems the whole race but got going late to get up for second, completing the $260 exacta.
Third went to Rough Enough, with early speed that held on at 18-1 and completed a $1 trifecta of $1,298.
Ride Little Girl rode out the final spot of the superfecta, finishing fourth to complete a monster payout of $37,925 for a $2 superfecta, $18,963 for the $1 super, and $1,896 for the 10-center.
Breeding grounds: big field, cheap level of racing. Some may have keyed Capridrey in the first and second spots in the trifecta and superfecta to get a piece of this.
Another cha-ching fest.
The breeding grounds: claiming $8,000 with an 11-horse field.
Splicer came from midpack to prevail at 12-1.
Vandelia was third at 7-2.
Full of Attitude was fourth at 9-2.
That would have constituted a big payday by itself. But what made it enormous? Miss Beth ‘El ran second at 60-1.
The $2 exacta paid $961. The $1 trifecta paid $2,229, and the $2 dollar super delivered a whopping $39,051. That’s $19,526 for the $1 version and $1,952 for 10 cents.
This one has personal experience attached. I had an inkling on Splicer based on back class and bet him $5 to win and place. That returned $94; fine. I had the third- and fourth-place finishers on the same trifecta ticket.
But Miss Beth ‘El? Nope. In an 11-horse field, there were some I liked better. I had a nice-priced winner but couldn’t get lucky with the right long shot.
Sometimes you do make that right pick, but even being close keeps bettors in the hunt.
Good luck finding your big hit this week.