A Salute To Memorial Day — Horse Racing Events Happening At Tracks From Coast To Coast

Written By Dave Bontempo on May 27, 2022 - Last Updated on May 31, 2022
Santa Anita Park Memorial day horse racing

There’s Monday Monday and Blue Monday.

How about Green Monday?

Memorial Day horse racing is a coast-to-coast venture. From Santa Anita in California to Monmouth Park in New Jersey, nationwide bettors can take advantage of an enhanced legalized gambling format on this holiday: Attend a parade, observe a ceremony honoring the nation’s soldiers, enjoy a cookout, and …”go” to the track.


Access loaded holiday cards on TVG from the comfort of home, or wherever one has mobile access, in states where mobile gambling is available. Holiday activity menus no longer have to mean one race over the other. A gambler can juggle several horse races in different states on Memorial Day.

Some tracks open specifically for that day and offer big races to corner the betting market. Others have reasonably good cards. One has a mandatory Rainbow Pick 6 payout with the pool estimated to approach $5 million.

We’ll take a look at that, along with a specific betting strategy revealed last week in our Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots segment.

Santa Anita highlights the weekend lineup

The California track has three excellent stakes races on Memorial Day:

  • The $400,000 Gamely.
  • The $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.
  • The $500,000 Shoemaker Mile.

Suddenly, on a day that’s normally quiet, here’s a stakes-race platter. The bonus: It’s not limited to live attendance in California. Santa Anita also has a mandatory Pick 6 payout, starting with Race 4.

The current Rainbow Pick 6 Single Ticket Jackpot Pool is at $449,347 (as of Sunday, May 22) and must pay out on Monday, May 30. Unless a single ticket hits the whole pool before Monday, it’s a jackpot game on. The first post is at 4 p.m. EDT.

Saluting Santa Anita innovation

In a move bound to catch on throughout the industry, the track has posted past performances on its website well in advance. The three Monday races listed above have past performance data posted as of this writing.

How it helps bettors

Take the Hollywood Gold Cup, for example. The field wasn’t totally set four days out, but some horses were considered probable. They include Royal Ship, Spielberg, Defunded and Stilleto Boy.

Defunded won at Allowance Optional Claiming $80,000 at this track on May 8. He is moving up in class off of a victory. Stilleto Boy and Royal Ship also come in off of Santa Anita triumphs. Stilleto Boy captured the Californian Stakes and is on an uptick pattern. Two races back, Express Train beat him by nine lengths. In his last outing, Stilleto Boy turned the tables, beating Express Train. Express Train’s status for this race is uncertain. Regardless of whether that same opponent is in this race, the last effort shows rounding of form.

Royal Ship has a recent win and a decent workout but has trouble stringing two races together in a short time. Stilleto Boy crushed Spielberg in a previous matchup. If Spielberg is less than a major long shot, that becomes value-added for the others.

These are just some of the angles available at a glance.

The advantage

This helps because the avalanche of nationwide access heightens the value of preparation. In another era, bettors went to one track, had 20-30 minutes between races, and had time to do most of their handicapping between events. Now, if one wants to tackle multiple races at a couple of tracks, the early handicapping will enable people to bet with a little more conviction. The problem, generally, is that the Daily Racing Form is not available until one day before with most racecards.

Some of that is changing through online partnerships. Some platforms are providing gamblers free past performances with signup or making them available for purchase at a reasonable price. Either way, it’s a valued tool. If a track puts the past performances up early, that’s a nice edge for gamblers. Bear in mind that some horses listed on the Santa Anita track won’t run. However, an early look will reveal which horses like the track, who is coming in off a big layoff, and what workout patterns emerge.

More from Santa Anita

Before the big Monday races commence, Saturday’s lineup is good too.

It includes the:

  • $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes
  • $100,000 Thor’s Echo
  • $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes
  • $150,000 Melair Stakes
  • $100,000 Fran Valentine Stakes

The card starts at 4 p.m. EDT. The stakes races unfold between 5 and 8 p.m. Some handicappers will be encouraged by the small fields in some of these races. It will narrow the focus and encourage a heavier bet they might make with more confidence.

Santa Anita has a West Coast flair. Here are some for the East Coast.

East Coast Memorial Day horse racing

Belmont Park has the seven-furlong Soaring Softly for $150,000 on Saturday at 5:12 p.m. EDT. It has a huge field and some real payout possibilities. Several races with purses just under $100,000 fit this category. Opportunity knocks. The card starts at 1 p.m.

Delaware Park opened its meet on May 24. Saturday’s card starts at 12:30 p.m. Cheaper racing, but some large fields. The track notoriously favors speed. Bettors will decide whether that pattern holds up in the early going here.

Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ, has a trio of nice turf stakes races over the entire weekend. Monmouth has a 12:15 p.m. post time Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The $100,000 Cliffhanger is the featured race on Saturday. On Sunday, it’s the $100,000 Jersey Derby. On Monday, it’s the $100,000 Miss Liberty.

Monmouth announces other news this week

For travelers in and around New Jersey, tickets go on sale Saturday for the $1 million TVG.Com Haskell Stakes on July 23. This race always attracts Triple Crown graduates and has drawn live crowds of over 60,000, so tickets will go quickly.

All tickets for Haskell Day (except for the Dining Club Buffet and Lady’s Secret Cafe) may be purchased on SeatGeek or by visiting the reserved seating booth on the second floor of the Grandstand on any live racing day. General admission on Haskell Day is $20; reserved seats range up to $30.

The Grade 1 Haskell Stakes for 3-year-olds headlines a stakes-filled card. Mandaloun, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner in 2021, captured this race last year.

Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots

We always like to find the races that produced returns with telephone-number lengths to Playfecta.com bettors.

Some of them involve remote possibilities.

Here’s one from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races with a different twist: a stellar return for a minimal investment in a logical scenario. It was the fourth race on May 18. There was a six-horse field, the type of setting that usually returns peanuts.

Unless … the longest shot on the field wins and a bettor has keyed the second-place horse. That’s what happened here.

Azure Fire circled the field in this 6 1/2-furlong race and triumphed at 25-1. He rallied from 10 lengths back entering the final turn and caught the leaders just before the wire. Second place belonged to Mio Graceland, at 3-1. He got that in a photo over Felicia’s Castle, 5-2.

The $1 trifecta paid a whopping $441.

Some bettors got it by keying Mio Graceland, the 6-horse, in a $1 trifecta for both the first and second positions. Two things had to happen, and they did. Mio Graceland had to get beat by the bomb, and he had to win a photo for second. One reason bettors like this approach is that if they key the right horse, they have covered two-thirds of the entire field with this bet. Picking another favorite, Felicia’s Castle, would have been logical in a key wager with Mo Graceland.

What makes the payout is the long shot winning.

At Charles Town, long shots are always live.

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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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