No Kentucky Derby hype this weekend?
Saturdays remain a weekend betting carnival at major tracks, giving nationwide bettors a potpourri of choices in two key areas — big purses and big fields.
All the action is accessible via TVG.
We’ll examine some of the major events and our weekly Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots tribute that enriched some of our readers.
Weekend betting around the country
Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., commands center stage with a pair of $1 million races in the Apple Blossom and the Oaklawn Handicap. In addition, the $150,000 Oaklawn Stakes and some large fields in a few other races comprise an excellent card.
The Apple Blossom is a repeat-victory opportunity for Letruska, who won this competition last year and has gone 5-for-6. Ce Ce has won three of the previous four, including the Grade 2 Azeri at Oaklawn in March. The 1 1/16-mile event has a small five-horse field and goes off at 3:18 p.m. EDT.
The Oaklawn Stakes has a field of seven and is a 1 1/8-mile test at 4:54 p.m.
The Oaklawn Handicap brings together some horses who have enjoyed some good moments in the spring campaign. That includes Plainsman, Thomas Shelby and Rated R Superstar, who tangled in the Razorback and Essex Handicaps during the Oaklawn campaign. Fearless is the early-line favorite at 9-5 in the field of eight. The 1 1/8-mile contest goes off at 6:41 p.m.
Aqueduct offers an interesting three-pack of races at the end of the day.
It starts at 5:04 p.m. EDT with the $200,000 Stallion Stakes, conducted at 6 1/2 furlongs with a field of seven. Then, at 5:36 p.m., it’s the $100,000 Woodhaven Stakes. It will be contested over 1 1/6 miles on turf with a field of seven. Up next is a $40,000 maiden-claiming race that should be wide open with a field of 10. It’s a six-furlong battle with a 6:11 p.m. post time.
Laurel Park in Maryland checks in with one of its best Saturday cards. Bettors can find an appealing five-race package running from just after 3 p.m. to about 5:30 p.m. EDT.
Let’s look at the lineup:
3:23 p.m. — The string begins with the $100,000 King Leatherbury Stakes over five furlongs on turf. It has a 10-horse field.
3:56 p.m. — Next up is the $100,000 Primonetta. It’s a six-furlong, seven-horse field at 3:56 p.m.
4:28 p.m. — The $100,000 Dahlia is an excellent wagering race. The one-mile turf event has a tremendous field size of 12 with no hot early-line favorite.
Betting strategies for big purses
Prices are sitting on this board. Midrange horses should run well, and some long shots are likely to be in the superfecta hunt. So it could be a good time to take some stabs.
For $24, a bettor can take a $1 trifecta “key” by putting their favorite selection in the first and second position with four other horses. The combination must produce the first three finishers in the correct order.
Example: Key in the 1 horse to finish first with the 2-3-4-5 to make up the second and third slots. As long as horse 1 wins and any combination of 2-3-4-5 finishes in second and third, you win. As an alternate bet, key 2-3-4-5 in the first slot with 1 in the second position and the 2-3-4-5 again in the third spot. In this scenario, the 1 horse must finish second, and the first and third horses can be any others.
Feel a little more precise than that? With three other horses rather than four, that same ticket costs $12.
5 p.m. — Continuing down the card is the $100,000 Native Dancer. It has a field of seven and a $100,000 purse for the 1 1/8-mile distance.
5:32 p.m. — Rounding out the string is the $100,000 Henry Clark. It is a one-mile turf race with a field of seven.
Keeneland has its usual strong card, which begins at 1 pm. EDT.
The race package includes four events at $100,000 or more, and then comes an appealing three-race finale.
It starts at 4:44 p.m. with the $300,000 Ben Ali Stakes with a field of eight for a 1 1/8-mile contest on dirt. Then comes a visual spectacle, a 1 1/2-mile race on turf. Besides the aesthetics, the $350,000 Elkhorn Stakes is a nice betting contest with nine entries at 5:16 p.m.
Rounding out this three-event trifecta is an Allowance Optional Claiming event. It is contested at 7 furlongs with a 10-horse field and no early hot favorites. Post time is 5:48 p.m.
Races like this have often led to big payouts, which we like to feature as:
Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots
A principle is involved in the Bombs Away, Salute to Long Shots segment.
One reveals how difficult it was to latch onto part of a whopping $23,756 superfecta. The other tells how some bettors may have snared a piece of a more modest pie of $6,234 as a popular even-money favorite won the race.
First is the bomb-bomb story.
In the sixth race at Gulfstream Park last Saturday, Birdman Richie captured the one mile and 70-yard race at 9-1. Rye Sense of Humor, 13-1, completed a $235 exacta. My Man Flint took third at 8-1 and finished out a handsome $1 trifecta payout of $1,056. High Press, 11-1, took fourth and completed the whopping superfecta price of $23,756. The $1 super paid $11,878 and the 10-center paid $1,187, while the 20-cent super returned $2,375.
The betting scenario that paid off
There were two unexpected developments. First, the pacesetters in the race unfurled a quick 46.1-second half-mile. That left the front-runners vulnerable to the closers. The second factor involved one of the horses who stood to benefit from that duel. The 2-1 favorite sat back while the leaders scuffled, ranged up on them and looked ready to go ahead. The race was set up perfectly for him. But instead, he simply flattened out. That’s hard to predict when the favorite will get exactly the type of speed duel his backers would have hoped for. After all, these are still animals.
That race was preceded by a good payout with the odds-on favorite winning.
Sweet Actress, wagered down to even money, hit the wire first.
I Love Magel, 6-1, was second.
Wi Fi powered the end of the trifecta at 30-1.
Katz That Gal, a big number at 50-1, was fourth.
Anyone who cashed that ticket can thank Katz That Gal, who caught up with and passed a midrange contender just before the wire.
That’s where the money was. The exacta at $23.80 was nothing special. The $1 trifecta of $191.20 was nice enough. However, the $2 superfecta paid $6,234, and the $1 super was $3,117.
A bettor’s perfect storm
An even-money shot on top rarely pays well. But a 3-1 shot faded in the stretch and did not hit the board, despite taking a lot of money.
How some bettors cashed: For $24, you can key a horse in the first position and put any four underneath him in trifecta and superfecta combinations in a $1 wager.
What happened next is exactly what the bettor then hopes for — one’s top horse coupled with long shots came out.
It’s a careful consideration. The payout was in the long shots underneath.
The Superfecta Light Saga. In a 10-cent wager, you can put your horse first and second with four other horses for $4.80. That would have led to $311.72 here.
That’s our look around the industry this week. The Triple Crown races inject excitement into the industry. On any horse-racing level, weekends are a betting festival.
Good luck bringing some money in!