Handicapping Four Days Of Florida Horse Racing This Weekend

Written By Dave Bontempo on March 24, 2023
Weekend Florida horse racing preview

Florida racing greets Sunshine State bettors with significant wagering opportunities and intrigue this weekend at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and a few hours northwest at Tampa Bay Downs.

Gulfstream Park unveils four solid days of stacked cards and fields Thursday-Sunday starting at 12:40 p.m. There are nine races Thursday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday both have 10.

Besides the competitive racing, Gulfstream percolates with its 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6, already perched at $600,000 and growing before the wagering pool hits several million dollars during the mandatory payout next weekend.

Tampa Bay has cards Friday through Sunday. In a unique tribute to Florida breds, there is a strong Sunday showcase of six races for $110,000 apiece A very strong effort for the central Florida oval.

Florida horse racing bettors can wager from home on the TVG app. They can catch the action all day via FanDuel TV.

Here’s a look at each track:

Gulfstream Betting Overview

Many fields are packed with double-digit entries. The key to survival is to save your financial powder for the races that best fit your style whether that’s turf, distance races, a sprint, a large field or a small one that’s easier to handicap.

Gulfstream is longshot heaven, so the right stab matters. Here are some inexpensive wagers that can tie you into a chance for something big.

The 10-cent superfecta key. This involves putting your favorite horse in the first and second spots with five other horses that must round out the top four spots along with your selection. Use it when believing longshots are likely to be on the board.

It only costs $12, puts you in the middle of the action, and curbs the temptation to overspread.

A $1 trifecta key for $12 accomplishes a similar purpose. Your horse must finish in the first or second spot, and three others selected in the ticket must fill out the remainder of the top 3 spots.

It’s easy to spend a ton of money in big fields and still feel you haven’t covered everything. So this is a good barometer, along with any betting systems you already have.

Two six-figure Gulfstream races on Saturday

They are the Texas Glitter in Race 4 and the Melody Colors in Race 10. They are a pair of five-furlong $100,000 dashes on turf.

Here is a breakdown of the Texas Glitter from the rail out:

Vamos Viejo

He stalked front-running speed, took control in the homestretch, and said Adios to the field at Tampa Bay last month. The colt stepped up a little but won with authority. He is only lightly raced, which is a plus.

Three Zero

He has three Gulfstream races under his belt since shipping from New York. He always runs tough and has a second and two fourths.

Golden Nugget

He struck gold in his Gulfstream debut at five furlongs in maiden special weights. This race is a step up, but that last outing was solid and is attractive to bettors.

Crispy Cat

Another competitive horse that’s being run to develop. He has a second at Gulfstream in only effort. That was on March 10. Connections make a quick return, which is usually a good sign.

Dr. Oseran

He has a win on the synthetic and on the turf.  Likes Gulfstream. Has credentials.

Gordian Knot

There is a lot to love here. He has three opening wins at Parx and Presque Isle Downs, followed by second in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. On class levels, he is the one to beat.

Marley Luck

He has a couple of wins on the synthetic but was beaten decisively by Dr. Oseran. It might be too much to overcome.

Gulfstream Park Highlights

“Gulfie” was up to its old tricks last week, yielding a strong payout on the opening Saturday race.

Warp Speed Baby triumphed at 8-1. Sir Samuel was second at 2-1.  Tapit Brio was the 40-1 bomb finishing third and completing the $718 trifecta for $1. Hollywood Hellraisr was fourth at 7-1 and the 10-cent super paid $537.

The keys? One key horse ran in, and the other ran out.

Sir Samuel got second, the ideal spot “key” bettors want him in, sandwiched between longshots.

Another key was Stormy Victory. The 9-5 favorite ran out of the money.

Watch It Grow

If only our stocks behaved like this.

The 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 continues to soar. The pool was guaranteed to be at least $600,0000 when the action resumed Thursday. It went unsolved for the 11th straight day Wednesday.

The popular wager involves gamblers picking the last six winners on the card. It is paid out when a single unique ticket is sold with all six winners. When there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

And it snowballs.

By the time mandatory payout day arrives on April 1 or 2, the carryover pot should be well over $1 million. Several million will be added to it on Gulfstream’s closing day.

It doesn’t cost too much to play and packs tremendous excitement.

Gulfstream All Stars

Who’s Hot? 

Trainer Rohan Crichton and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. continued their highly successful association during the Championship Meet Wednesday. They teamed up to win Race 3 with Oasis Jak ($4.20). The trainer-jockey duo now clicks at a 50-percent win rate with 16 victories in 32 races.

Tampa Bay Betting Overview

Friday and Saturday contain nine-race cards starting at 12:20 p.m. Sunday offers a creative twist.

A big, tailored stakes card becomes a wagering party on Sunday. There are six $110,000 races for registered Florida breds, comprising the 20th edition of the Florida Cup.

The first run was in 2003. But it was canceled three years ago because of the pandemic. Since then, the event regained its position as a proving ground for state-bred dirt and turf horses.

Watch for entries from Thursday on.

The Florida Cup features three races for 3-year-olds, one for fillies and mares three and up, and two for horses four years old and up. Three races are scheduled for the turf and three for the dirt. These are good races to watch, not only for betting. But to track the progress of future stars.

Tampa Bay authored a pair of extraordinary payouts last Friday and Saturday in Race 9.

On Friday

China Beach prevailed at 7-1, with Shimmering Leroid second at 6-1. Barahin held third at 19-1 after leading the entire way until the stretch.

The two favorites in this race were nowhere to be seen. Thus, the $1 trifecta paid $579.10, and the 10-cent superfecta with 7-2 shot Simms in fourth returned $324.

Simms had been the 6-5 chalk and was bet up to 7-2. The three speed horses finished in the top three spots, while Simms came from the back to capture fourth.

One day later, an $8,000 claimer with a field of 11 yielded box cars, so to speak.

Aries Reigns prevailed at 14-1.  Poseidon’s Son was second at 5-2. Had Right was third at 11-1, with the $1 trifecta paying $818. Awkward Pause was fourth, and the 10-cent superfecta returned $523. The $2 version was $10,460.

Possible ways to get the triple included keying Poseideon’s Son first and second with a group of long shots. He finished second. For $12, bettors could have put him in $1 trifectas along with three horses or in the 10-center with five other entries.

Not easy to find the key, but this paid well.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer. He writes NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City, iGaming Player and others. For PlayFL, he will focus on the world of Florida horse racing. 

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