This week, our salute to long shots, along with a betting mechanism that links several American tracks and some loaded weekend cards, marks the Playfecta racing roundup.
All weekend, it’s a wager wonderland. This rundown of recent track trends includes the listing of top trainers and jockeys at Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Santa Anita Park. These dynamos are a good reference point for bettors as to which horses attract betting attention. These folks are at peak performance right now, so as you make decisions on how to bet these races, it’s a good idea to give the horse these teams are working with a look.
It’s all about the Benjamins at Gulfstream Park
Gulfstream continues to make news with its Rainbow Pick 6, which was hit last week by one bettor for more than $1 million.
Keep watching the jackpot escalate and carry over. It will usually exceed $1 million on a couple of occasions throughout the season. The Rainbow 6 represents the last six races on a card. If no singular bet hits the Pick 6, a percentage of the pool carries over, again and again, until the jackpot is hit.
Saturday’s biggest races
Sunshine Classic, $75,000, 1/1-8 miles
Sunshine Sprint, $75,000, six furlongs
Leading jockeys and trainers at Gulfstream Park as of Jan. 12
The track has a deep roster of top riders.
Luis Saez, 49 wins, 55% in-the-money finishes (first, second or third)
Paco Lopez, 30 wins, 49% in the money
Tyler Gaffalione, 27 wins, 48% in the money
Junior Alvarado, 23 wins, 54% in the money
Saffie Joseph Jr., 25 winners, 49% in the money
Todd Pletcher, 18 winners, 65% in the money
Mark Casse, 10 winners, 39% in the money
Jose D’Angelo, eight winners, 75%
One takeaway: Pletcher reserves his mounts for bigger races and is a must-watch for the graded events.
Stronach Pick 5 gives bettors a good deal
It’s refreshing whenever the sport addresses a structural weakness, in this case, the takeout percentages. Exotic bets — exactas, trifectas and superfectas — have takeout percentages close to 25%, a sore spot for bettors and something that hinders horse racing versus the vig on other sports. Pick 5 events, in which tracks take out a far more reasonable percentage, have increased in popularity.
That sets up Friday’s Stronach 5, spread across three tracks in less than one hour. The takeout percentage is only 12%, tops in the industry. It works like a classic Pick 5 at one track, only this one links Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California with Gulfstream Park.
The sequence starts at 4:33 EST with Santa Anita’s third race, a $75,000 maiden event for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs. The nine-horse field includes first-time starters from trainers John Sadler, Michael McCarthy and George Papaprodromou.
The second leg shifts to Gulfstream and the ninth race, an allowance optional claiming event at five-and-a-half furlongs for fillies and mares. American of Course enters off a third-place finish against similar company after a four-month layoff for trainer Kathleen O’Connell. Rakasa goes out first off a claim for trainer Aubrey Maragh, who is 25% off a claim. Domineer also goes out first off a claim for trainer Jose D’Angelo, who is 31% off a claim.
Golden Gate’s third race is next, a nine-horse maiden event for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Leading trainer Jonathan Wong sends out Feel This Moment, fifth in her debut on Dec. 11. Here Comes Ralphie takes a drop-in class for trainer Steve Sherman. The filly makes her first start since March and comes into the race off a “bullet” work. Lady Skywalker gets blinkers on; Sugar Plum has blinkers off.
It’s back to Santa Anita for race four, a 1/1-8-mile turf event for $50,000 maiden claiming. Nothngoodcomseasy goes out for trainer Doug O’Neill. The son of Medaglia d’Oro lacked room when finishing fifth by three lengths on the turf on Nov. 7 and would benefit from a better trip.
The Stronach 5 will conclude with Gulfstream’s 10th race, a 1/1-16-mile turf event for 4-year-olds and up with a $35,000 claiming tag. The field of nine includes Alley Oop Johnny, who goes out first off the claim for trainer Mike Maker after a fourth-place finish on the turf Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.
Stakes winner Archer Road goes second time out after a two-year layoff. Leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. sends out Hail to the Chief, third in his last two starts by less than two lengths against similar company.
Like any Pick 5, this is not easy to hit. Knowing each race helps bettors find some wagering opportunities inside each event.
Friday’s races and sequence
• Leg One –Santa Anita Race 3: (nine entries, six furlongs) 4:33 EST, 1:33 PST
• Leg Two –Gulfstream Race 9: (nine entries, five-and-a-half furlongs) 4:42 EST, 1:32 PST
• Leg Three –Golden Gate Race 3: (nine entries, six furlongs) 4:59 EST, 1:59 PST
• Leg Four – Santa Anita Race 4: (eight entries, 1/1-8-mile turf) 5:04 EST, 2:04 PST
• Leg Five –Gulfstream Race 10: (nine entries, 1/1-16-mile turf) 5:14 EST, 2:14 PST
The minimum wager on the multirace, multitrack Stronach 5 is $1. The entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday if there are no tickets with five winners. If a change in racing surface is made after the wagering closes, each selection on any ticket will be considered a winning selection. When a horse is scratched, that selection will be substituted with the favorite in the win pool when wagering closes.
Bombs Away: Our salute to the long shots
Gulfstream is famous for these otherwise unlikely outcomes. They occur not only as a result of big fields but also because of horses arriving from varied racing circuits throughout the country. It happened again last weekend.
Check out these ninth race results:
The winner, Think About It, roared from the back of the pack to nip the leaders at 25-1.
Second place was Handsome Prince at 60-1.
Mish, the 2-1 favorite, was third.
Raise the Rent was fourth at 9-1.
The $2 exacta paid a whopping $1,427.
The $1 trifecta returned $3,115.
The $1 superfecta paid $20, 262, meaning that the 10-cent superfecta, a reasonably priced investment vehicle, paid $2,068.
Yowza. When we look back at these races, there’s often a clue about something bettors can look at going forward. In a race like this, it looks like magic. There’s an angle for everybody.
One New Jersey bettor informed Playfecta that he selected the winning horse on looks. That’s a specific angle employed by seasoned payers who examine the horses walking in the post parade and even jogging on the track. They evaluate a horse’s hindquarters, shoulders and disposition to make a subjective call. This evaluation was top-notch.
Betting observation: Looks players must have a clear picture of the horse. Some tracks lose money because players don’t have a good viewing angle to make their selections.
Emerging jockeys take to the track at Aqueduct
Biggest races this weekend
Saturday, Franklin Square, $100,000, six-and-a-half furlongs
Sunday, Ladies Handicap, $100,000, 1/1-8 miles
Leading jockeys and trainers through Jan. 12
Kendrick Carmouche, 22 winners, 56% in the money
Dylan Davis, 19 winners, 48% in the money
Jose Ortiz, 13 winners, 48 % in the money
Trevor McCarthy, 12 winners, 49% in the money
Rudy Rodriguez, eight winners, 54% in the money
Rob Atras, eight winners, 50% in the money
Robert Falcone, seven winners, 73% in the money
Juan Vazquez, six winners, 54% in the money
Recent patterns: Chalks and moderate long shots dominated the scene last weekend. This means no monster payouts, perhaps, but more bettors feel comfortable investing into this pattern. Jockeys Dylan Davis and Kendrick Carmouche are emerging into stardom and have an excellent battle underway for the riding title.
Santa Anita Park presents a quality package this weekend
Santa Anita has a strong card Saturday, with several six-figure races bettors can leap into.
Biggest races on Saturday
- Unusual Heat Turf Classic, 4 and up, (CA), 1/1-8 mile (turf), $200,00
- Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint, F/M, 4 and up, (CA), six-and-a-half-furlong hillside turf course, $150,000
- Leigh Ann Howard Cal Cup Oaks, F, 3-year-olds, (CA), one mile (turf), $200,000
- Don Valpredo Cal Cup Sprint, 4 and up, (CA), six furlongs, $150,000
- Cal Cup Derby, 3-year-olds, (CA), 1/1-16 mile, $200,000
Flavien Prat, 21 victories, 72% in the money
John Velazquez, 17 wins, 67% in the money
Juan Hernandez, eight wins, 48% in the money
Abel Cedillo, five wins, 48% in the money
Bob Baffert, 11 wins, 75% in the money
Doug O’Neill, six wins, 45% in the money
Phillip D’Amato, six wins, 49% in the money
Ruben D. Alvarado, six wins, 53% in the money
Chalk dominated last weekend, but we had a Bombs Away honoree.
In Saturday’s Race 5, Barristan the Bold triumphed at 17-1. See Through It was second at 4-1, Fly the Sky finished third at 10-1 and Joe Don Looney rallied for fourth at 12-1.
The $ trifecta paid $967.
The $1 superfecta paid $6,331.
Overall, it differed from other races because there was a big field, no clear favorite and the public’s choices — both 3-1 — ran out of the money. There also was a wicked speed duel.