Not every weekend will be a blockbuster, filled with seven-figure purses. But every weekend can pack a solid program for Florida horse bettors.
Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa have an intriguing set of variables for gamblers with distinctly unique cards. Gulfstream offers several races approaching $100,000, some that reach that limit and many events with large field sizes to challenge handicappers.
Tampa Bay unfurls several lower-level races, enabling handicappers to sharpen their focus on one particular market segment. Some of the biggest payouts occur in low-level claiming races with large fields.
Horse racing is one of the two activities Floridians can legally bet on, while the 2021 Florida gaming compact is wrapped up in the court system. Bettors can wager from home on the TVG app and catch the action all day via FanDuel TV.
Here’s the overall weekend Florida horse betting breakdown.
Gulfstream Park schedule
Racing takes place Thursday-Sunday, with post time at 12:40 p.m.
There is a nine-race card Thursday, highlighted by three races with huge fields. Race 3 has 12 horses in maiden claiming $12,500, a low-level rung capable of providing a nice payout. Race 5 has 12 horses and the ninth has 10.
Friday has something for all levels of bettors.
The card opens with a field of 10 for 1 mile on the turf at maiden special weights $84,000. This is a high level of maidens, horses who may soon graduate into claiming and allowance ranks.
Another race with payoff opportunities looms in the ninth. It has a field of nine at the low-rung level of $6,250 claiming. These are the types of races in which a horse can suddenly improve a little, and win, often at a price.
Saturday features two $100,000 stakes events:
- The Silks Run Stakes is 5 furlongs on the turf.
- The Hutcheson Stakes is 6 furlongs on the dirt.
The 12-race card has several big fields and will feature the highest betting volumes of the week.
Sunday features a nine-race card with no major stakes events. But there are 10 events and every one has at least eight entries. Three have 10 or more.
Here’s an early look at the Hutcheson Stakes on Saturday. It’s a nice matchup of seven horses.
A lot depends on whether Mooncapture and Super Chow get in a ding-dong speed duel right away. If they do, they set the stage for a closer. If they can avoid one, each has a shot.
From the rail out:
Won impressively at 9-to-5 in maiden optional claiming at Gulfstream on March 9. Connections bring him back quickly, always a big sign of faith.
Broke maiden in fourth asking and did so by wiring the field at 5 1/2 furlongs. Pulled away late to win by eight lengths, giving credence to the idea he can run well at 6 furlongs.
Has a maiden special weights victory at Gulfstream, which carries more clout than maiden optional claiming. Also ran against Il Miracolo, who was in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth.
Running pretty well and stacks up well from a class standpoint.
Super is right. Won four in a row before stumbling to second in the $125,000 Swale Stakes. Bolted to the lead and was clear by 4 1/2 lengths heading for home, but he went out a little too fast and General Jim caught him down the lane.
Probably will break strongly. Possible speed duel with Mooncapture.
Two of a Kind
Now beaten twice by Super Chow. Finished a distant third in the Swale and would need a speed duel between several horses for the race to set up for him.
In a tough spot.
Live Is Life
Was several lengths behind Tapit Trice in a $100,000 Gulfstream allowance race, something similar to what he’ll see here.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Tapit Trice went on to win the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby, making horses he’d beaten look good by comparison.
Back class could put him in the mix on his best.
It’s no joke that Luis Saez, one of Gulfstream’s leading riders, takes the mount.
But this is only his second race and first at Gulfstream. First effort was a winning one at 6 furlongs in slow time at Aqueduct. New York shippers are traditionally overbet and they often under perform at this track.
We’ll see if that pattern holds.
Winless in three starts, has the biggest uphill climb of any horse in the field. Gets Tyler Gaffalione, which is a plus, but this is not a good spot.
Rainbow 6 picking up steam
The re-booting of the 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 is in full swing.
The carryover pot for players needing to hit the last six races was guaranteed at $300,000 entering Thursday’s card. Bettors have to select the winners of the last six races each day.
Several gamblers cashed in for more than $40,000 apiece on the last mandatory payout, March 5.
The pot has slowly grown since.
On most days, 70% of the pot is split between the winners with the most number of winning selections. Other than a freak circumstance, in which a single ticket has all six winners, 30% of the pool carries over.
The next mandatory payout will be April 1 or 2, buoyed by the massive handle of the Florida Derby card. That $1 million Kentucky Derby prep will be augmented by several races, putting the card well above $2.5 million.
Gamblers love betting into pools this size. And the 20-cent wager creates a lot of bang for the buck.
Gulfstream Park betting trends
Gulfstream Park is usually speed favoring.
Recent trends indicate it is advantageous to be forwardly placed. Early speed from horses being in front or within one length of the lead have won 49% of the races in the last month.
Stalkers within 1-4 lengths have triumphed 42% of the time.
Closers, those more than four lengths back, have only won 9% of the races.
This is a good element to factor into handicapping.
One reason for this, besides the nature of the track, is that the surface rarely incurs hours of hard rain. There’s the occasional burst for several minutes, but not the overnight downpour that softens the track up.
To make sure you are in tune with conditions, it’s always helpful to watch replays from the previous day’s races to monitor how the track plays. If there are rain storms, the early races on any given day will provide insight on the track.
Gulfstream horse Dubai-bound
Multiple stakes winner Sibelius breezed a half-mile last week at Gulfstream Park in his final work before heading overseas to run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (Grade I) March 25 at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
Jockey Junior Alvarado guided the 3-year-old to a 4-furlong clocking in 48.80 seconds over a fast main track, ranking 20th of 50 horses at the distance.
Previously, he went a half in 48.25 seconds March 3 at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, where trainer Jerry O’Dwyer is based.
“Everything went great. I’m very pleased with him. He went a half-mile in 48 and four, just easy in hand,” O’Dwyer said in a Gulfstream release. “Junior was very pleased with how he was moving and acting and doing.”
Sibelius’ latest work came over the same surface where he became a graded-stakes winner with a 2 1/4-length upset of the 7-furlong Mr. Prospector (Grade III) Dec. 31. He followed up with a 1 1/4-length triumph in the Feb. 11 Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs in a stakes-record 1:08.75 for 6 furlongs.
Tampa Bay lineup
Friday-Sunday, post time approximately 12:20 p.m.
Nine races with 13 horses in the finale.
Some large fields and a $75,000 allowance race.
Details pending, usually a nine-race card.
Tampa had its moment in the sun last Saturday.
Gulfstream invader Tapit Trice came from second-to-last to first, seizing the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby at 1-to-2 betting odds and gaining a berth in the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
The two horses we mentioned as almost impossible to separate here last week — Classic Car Wash and Classic Legacy — finished second and third. All three horses came from off the pace.
The road to the Kentucky Derby for Tapit Trice and possibly Classic Car Wash — who obtained 20 Derby qualifying points for finishing second — have thus gone through Tampa Bay.