Never mind the blockbusters.
Some big races and opportunities for betting scores mark the nationwide landscape of horse racing on Saturday.
If you look closely enough, themes emerge.
The $500,0000 Ohio Derby and $250,000 Mother Goose feature big names in smaller fields.
There are several respectable-sized purses with good-sized fields at different tracks. We focus on two payout paths — Bonanza Bait and Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots in this week’s Playfecta analysis.
Nationwide bettors can access all the action throughout the day at TVG.
Thistledown enjoys a rare spotlight
The track located east of Cleveland is enjoying its moment atop the industry world with the best race of the day, the $500,000 Ohio Derby.
Three Kentucky Derby graduates — White Abarrio, Tawny Port, and Classic Causeway — vie for the top prize in this 1 1/8-mile event, which occurs at about 5:34 p.m. EDT.
Barese, who won the Gander during the Aqueduct winter meet, also is entered, along with allowance winner and maiden winners Brigadier General and Pineapple Man. Ethereal Road, whose Derby scratch enabled the entry of 80-1 winning Rich Strike, also will run. Handicappers will note that this one allows Lasix, unlike stakes races leading to the Kentucky Derby. Every horse but Classic Causeway will be using it.
This is a nice fit for the track, which gains the eyes of the racing world for one day, and the horses who made up the second tier of Derby finishers. Tawny Port was established as the early 3-1 favorite, but the favored roles may change.
Given the speed presence of Classic Causeway and Ethereal Road, the pace could set up nicely for White Abarrio. This should be a nice race. The contenders can certainly take turns beating each other. It should be good value on the win line.
The Ohio Derby becomes Thistledown’s top card of the meet. Supporting races include the $250,000 Lady Jaqueline (4:48 p.m.) and the $75,000 George Lewis Memorial.
Belmont Saturday horse racing overview
The $250,000 Mother Goose is the Race 8. It goes off at 4:40 p.m. and is 1 1/16 miles. Bettors have two ways to look at the small field of five.
One, the horse they like does not have to defeat many opponents. Probably figures to contend. Two, the betting must be precise. One win bet, one exacta combination may be it, and the exacta perhaps only if they want to slam it.
This type of race combines with the large fields to provide an overall betting contrast. Gamblers love the idea of their horse being in it some races and the possibility of taking a shot at a midrange or long-priced horse in others.
A brief overview of this field:
Juju’s Map won the Grade 1 Alcibiades last October at Keeneland and finished second to Echo Zulu in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She made a solid 3-year-old debut in a second-level allowance, a race she won by 4 3/4 lengths.
Gerrymander has a similar matchup against Echo Zulu, finishing second to her in the Frizette Stakes last year. She has a win at Belmont over 1 mile. Midnight Stroll won the Sophomore Filles Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs but could not up after that effort, finishing ninth in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. Shahama won the UAE Oaks and finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks. Venti Valentine was 14th in the Kentucky Oaks.
Other good Belmont races
Bettors have a chance to dig in and pluck a price from some of these races:
- Race 6 has a field of nine and a purse of $90,000.
- A field of 11 and a purse of $25,000 is up next in Race 9.
- Race 10 has a field of 12 and a purse of $75,000.
There are opportunities in the field sizes. A good value is going to be overlooked. Maybe that will end up in your pocket.
Whose day is it?
A point to ponder regarding the unbelievable parity we’ve seen on the horse-racing circuit this year: This is the year everybody takes turns.
Secret Oaks easily beat Nest in the Kentucky Oaks but then ran fourth in the Preakness, won by Early Voting. Nest then ran a game second in the Belmont Stakes against winner Mo Donegal.
Skippylongstocking, an overrun fifth in the Preakness, held third in the Belmont and defeated Creative Minister, who had beaten him in the Preakness. Then Mo Donegal, beaten by Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby, easily turned the tables and routed him in the Belmont.
And there’s Rich Strike’s miracle Kentucky Derby run. That’s where he surpassed Epicenter, who had beaten him by seemingly two football fields a few months earlier.
This parity line means it will be interesting — yet difficult to predict — how the 3-year-olds will battle each other all summer. It’s king — or queen— for a day.
Programming note: Lone Star moves times up
Because of extreme heat in the forecast, Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, has adjusted some post times for the remainder of the meet. As a result, the first post for most Saturday and Sunday cards is now at noon EDT. It had been 2:35 p.m.
The change will ensure that the races are not run in temperatures expected to exceed 100 degrees. Officials made a move for the safety of the horses and jockeys. Thursday and Friday night cards will remain at 7:35 p.m. EDT.
Lone Star is racing through July 24.
Gulfstream Park: Edgard Zayas returns
One of Gulfstream’s most noted jockeys is champin’ at the bit.
Edgard Zayas was listed for three mounts in his first appearance following the shoulder surgery that interrupted his winter campaign. Zayas is listed on four more on Saturday.
His breakout season had included spring, summer, and fall meet titles, and he was riding momentum into the tracks’ highly regarded championship meet last winter. Nevertheless, he made the difficult choice to accept six months without mounts in the hope of a permanent solution to the dislocated shoulder.
In this gig business, jockeys are paid percentages of the purses their owners receive. Therefore, no rides usually means no income.
Zayas has ridden 1,930 winners since venturing to South Florida to launch his career in late 2012. He has ridden more than 200 winners each year in six of nine complete seasons of his career.
It will be an incomplete year for Zayas, but he’s back in the game.
His return is part of a 10-race Happy Hour program that gets underway at 2:55 p.m. Friday.
Did you take the bait? Bonanza Bait results
Here are some highlights from the Bonanza Bait section last week, identifying the breeding grounds of a big payday. Hope you got a piece of it.
The seventh at Belmont produced a $2 superfecta payout of $19,362, a 10-cent super of $968, and a $1 trifecta worth $937.
A group of horses hit the wire together, and Castle Leoch prevailed at 15-1. Favored Credit Event was second at 2-1. Analogy was third at 6-1, and Carpe’s Dream was fourth at 29-1.
The targeted Gulfstream Park races — 1, 6, 9, and 12, featured the favorite or second choice running second in all of them.
The favorites running second-to-price horses in a big field are going to pay, even though you must be lucky to spot the right long shots.
Similar potential value lies in Monmouth Park’s big race on Saturday. The Goldwood has 12 horses for its $100,000 event, Race 11.
Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots
Charles Town provided a glimpse of how someone can back into a big payday by having a key horse who is highly played.
In the first race last Saturday, Diva’s Gal won the four-and-a-half-furlong sprint at 30-1. Second went to Tap Tap, 7-2, completing an exacta of $512.80. Swiss Horizon, the 2-1 favorite, was third, and the $1 trifecta paid $774. Iheartrainacomm hit the board at 25-1, gaining fourth and completing a terrific $2 superfecta payout of $30,216. That’s $1,508 for the $1 super and $1,510 for the 10-center.
Someone who keyed Tap Tap in the first and second position in the $1 trifecta was rewarded for beating the 2-1 favorite and running second to the 30-1 long shot. For the same $12, they could have played a 10-cent superfecta with Tap Tap in the first and second slot with five other horses.
That’s not a bad idea when considering it was a field of nine. You get the right key with five others, and two-thirds of the field is covered. This is the type of bet where a player can hope to find the right key and take most of the field with them in the exotics.
Charles Town has its share of long shots hitting the wire first.