Saturday Smorgasbord Gives Bettors A Ticket-Cashing Avenue

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 4, 2022 - Last Updated on June 26, 2022
Saturday Horse Racing Schedule

Perhaps it’s a stakes extravaganza at Churchill Downs. Maybe it’s the combination of big fields and good-sized purses at Belmont Park and a similar blueprint at Monmouth Park. Perhaps the eye settles on the big fields and cheaper races at Gulfstream Park or Laurel.

Or maybe it’s all of these.

By any measure, bettors have a potpourri of Saturday horse racing options to fit their budget and their favorite angles. Nationwide gamblers can access their pick of these choices via TVG and hone in on their favorite targets.

We’ll highlight a number of these tracks and present the weekly “Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots” segment of the horse-racing industry.

Let’s unpack.

Blockbuster card at Churchill Downs

Churchill paves the way with a blockbuster card. The home of the Kentucky Derby wisely loads up this weekend rather than butting heads with Belmont Park next week with the Belmont Stakes. Churchill has a great card, with just shy of million dollars in purses. There is a string of $200,000 races and a blockbuster run starting early in the card.

The card starts at 12:45 p.m. EDT, and two hours later, a magnificent stretch of $200,000 races, along with one for $127,000, begins.

Saturday’s card looks like this (*all races are $200,000 unless noted):

  • 2:45 p.m., Race 5: The Regret Stakes
  • 3:18 p.m., Race 6: Allowance for $127,000
  • 3:50 p.m., Race 7: The Shawnee
  • 4:22 p.m., Race 8: The Arlington
  • 4:55 p.m., Race 9: The Aristides
  • 5:26 p.m., Race 10: The Blame Stakes
  • 5:58 p.m., Race 11: The Audubon

This is the industry’s best-sustained race card of the entire day. It appeals both to bettors who may wish to make one heavy win wager on a horse they trust and those who like good horses and are looking for great prices in a large field.

Other tracks are trying to offer something similar, although they can’t compete with Churchill.

Big fields and decent purses at Belmont Park

Belmont Park offers a combination of big fields with some high-quality purses and a smaller field with a $200,000 stakes race.

The card begins at 1 p.m. EDT.

  • Race 1 has a $75,000 purse with 10 starters.
  • Race 5 has the same thing.
  • Race 7 features a $92,000 purse and 11 starters.
  • Race 10 carries a $75,000 purse with 12 potential starters.

The ninth race is the $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes with a field of seven and one overriding question: How good is Unanimous Consent? He comes into this race with three wins in three tries at three different tracks: Monmouth Park, Tampa, and Aqueduct.

Now he’ll try to add Belmont Park to the list and will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles. His connections hope all goes well in this race so that they can point him to the $1 million Belmont Derby on July 9. That is the first leg of NYRA’s Turf Trinity series to showcase the nation’s top 3-year-old turf specialists. It began in 2019 and now is sponsored by Caesars. All eyes will be on Unanimous Consent to see if he fits neatly into that picture.

Otherwise, an interesting appearance will be made by Emmanuel, a dirt specialist. He ran a strong but beaten third to Zandon in the Blue Grass. Zandon went on to capture third in the Kentucky Derby.

A lighter card at Gulfstream Park

The track isn’t loading up its weekend purses as it did during the Winter Championship meet. Even so, opportunities will beckon for bettors who can find some advantageous odds and an angle in a couple of races with large fields.

The 10-race card starts at 1:05 p.m. EDT.

There are 11 entries in Race 4 and 12 in Race 8. That means some quality horses will be overlooked. Some gamblers will be encouraged to try the spread method: trifecta and superfecta key wagering. If they can hook their favorite horse up to a long shot, they stand to win big.

The action at Monmouth Park has something for everybody

The New Jersey oval offers an interesting menu starting at 12:15 p.m. EDT.

There is a stakes race, the $100,000 Mr. Prospector, with a field of nine. There are slightly larger fields of 10 in both the seventh and ninth races on the turf. Bettors also will find a smattering of seven- and eight-horse fields. While this may slightly reduce prices, it gives gamblers a better chance to cash a ticket.

Some gamblers love the big fields and the possibility of long shots. Some like sinking a heavy wager into a dependable angle on the win line. Many have said they think the midrange field size of seven or eight is an ideal combo of the two.

There’s something for everybody here.

A quick tour of some lesser-known tracks

With the Preakness Stakes a distant memory, Maryland shifts its live-meet presentation to Laurel Park. The summer racing meet opens Friday and runs until Aug. 21 on a Friday-Sunday basis.
Post time is 12:40 p.m. every racing day. The initial weekend features an invitation for spread bettors. Races 2 and 4 have a big field of 10.

Assiniboia Downs joins the party with the beginning of its live meet. The Winnipeg oval has live racing most Mondays-Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. EDT. At the very least, this will bolster the normally quiet schedule, and it joins places like Mountaineer and Evangeline (especially on Wednesdays). There may also be a betting nugget for gamblers who want to hone in on an angle. The opening card features all races of five furlongs.

This will give players an excellent view of how the track plays and what types of horses do well at the distance. Will a six-furlong specialist have trouble, for instance, winning this much shorter race?
Study eventually reveals patterns. And patterns inform betting hunches.

Why do we constantly talk about big fields and opportunities, some of which appear to make no sense? It’s why we hail the long shots in this column each week.

Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots

We head to Gulfstream Park for the latest version. It happened last Saturday, May 28, in Race 10.

No Que No captured the turf race at 30-1. Granger County was second at 5-1, completing a whopping $465 exacta. Third went to Elusive Threat at 7-1, completing a $1 trifecta payout of $790.
Henry’s World finished fourth at 12-1, rounding out a $2 superfecta that paid $9,442. That translates into $472 for the 10-cent superfecta.

What happened?

An unforeseen speed duel that gobbled up the 4-5 favorite, Sayyaf. He rode behind Henry’s World’s punitive fractions of 20.90 for the first quarter-mile and 44.5 for the half-mile. Granted, in a five-furlong race, the pace is expected to be faster than normal. But this was too fast for the horses in front. Sayyaf took the lead with 1/8 of a mile to go and looked in position to romp home. But in a tsunami-like wave, the closers overtook the front pack and devoured them all at once.

That’s how No Que No won in a photo finish over Granger County and Elusive Threat.

Sayaaf’s collapse killed many tickets. Some gamblers may have gotten lucky in making Granger the key at 5-1 and putting him with some long shots in the trifecta. That type of ticket might also include the favorite, but if a bettor hooked up Granger with the long shots, it paid beautifully.

Luck — both the unexpectedly blazing pace that compromised the favorite and the decision that found the right horses — came into play here.

And good luck is often lucrative.

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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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