Florida horse racing bettors look at a different dynamic with the championship meet that ended last Sunday at Gulfstream Park, giving way to the Royal Palm Meet.
Racing dates are Thursday-Sunday, and first post time is generally 12:40 p.m. For the most part, however, these won’t be championship races. Gamblers will get a new line on hot jockeys and trainers, and become accustomed to a different event level.
Tampa Bay Downs, meanwhile, maintains its schedule of racing with programs Friday and Saturday. There will be no racing Sunday in observance of Easter.
Sunshine State residents, who can gamble at the tracks, other simulcasting outlets or at home on the TVG app, will pursue an alternate line of betting.
Adjusting to different betting menus
The million-dollar races are gone for a while, but opportunity remains in a different form at Gulfstream Park.
Gamblers must simply see what fits them.
On Thursday, for example, Gulfstream has an eight-race card with several seven-horse fields.
This appeals to Florida horse betting enthusiasts who can’t spread the money out over the big 12- and 14-horse fields. These races are easier to handicap and may produce a likely win scenario of a couple horses to most gamblers.
Payouts will be smaller, but gamblers can spread their money and enjoyment further by making more precise wagers.
In this case, the money figures to be on the win and exacta lines. Gamblers might also forego this line and put the money into Pick 5 and Pick 6 wagering, where applicable.
On Friday-Sunday, Gulfstream tosses some big fields into the mix. This is going to encourage some sizable payouts and shift betting strategies to 10-cent superfecta, $1 trifecta keys and, as always, value on the win line.
What to know about the Royal Palm Meet
Thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park will resume Thursday on the first day of the Royal Palm Meet.
Live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with a first-race post time set for 12:40 p.m.
On Thursday’s opening day program, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by Greatitude, the 3-to-1 morning-line favorite in a well-balanced field of seven in Race 7, a 7-furlong optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares.
The wagering menu for the Royal Palm Meet mirrors that of the Championship Meet, featuring the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (last six races), 50-cent Early Pick 5 (first five races) and 50-cent Late Pick 5 (last five races). Multiple Pick 4, Bet 3 and Super Hi-5 wagers, as well as Daily Double, Trifecta, Superfecta, win, place and show, are also on the menu.
The Royal Palm Meet will offer horsemen and fans an extensive and innovative stakes schedule that will include 42 stakes worth $3.945 million through Dec. 2.
Additional meet highlights
The $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile and the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies will be contested on May 13 with an international flair.
The winners of each of the 5-furlong turf stakes will earn an automatic berth into one of six stakes for 2-year-olds at Royal Ascot in June, as well as a $25,000 equine travel stipend, in addition to the winner’s share of the purse.
The $200,000 Princess Rooney (Grade II), which has been customarily featured on the Summit of Speed program in early July, has been repositioned on the schedule for the upcoming meet. The 7-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, a traditional “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade I), will be renewed on Sept. 30.
How bettors can adjust to the Royal Palm format
All right, it’s not the Florida Derby. We’re not handicapping Forte as a 1-to-5 favorite and leading contender for the Florida Derby.
But we are still staring at opportunity in most races.
Let’s look at the first race on Saturday.
At first, it seems impossible. A field of 12 is listed for maiden claiming $12,500. This is a level that’s near the bottom of the barrel. How are you going to find some money?
First, information on most of the horses is already available and all of it will be in the past performances of the Daily Racing Form.
The initial look will reveal that at least three horses ran fairly well in their last race.
That’s Macassa and Velocissima, who were third at this level in their last race. Out for Myself actually won in the first time out and was fourth in the last race.
Now you have a place to start. Look at these horses and decide whether you’d like to play them when stacked against the rest of the field, many of whom have run badly in previous races.
Betting pointers for the maiden claiming level
Horses may take turns being in contention. It doesn’t take much improvement for one to suddenly loom as a threat and, conversely, it doesn’t take too much for a horse to spit the bit.
These horses make some sense, but one or two of them may be a very short price. You can’t trust a large win bet on any of them, but you can take a small one, sprinkle in some longshots and try to get lucky.
If that original nucleus does not provide a betting platform, play it light or just watch and wait for the next opportunity. It will come.
Here’s an angle that may not apply to this particular race but is good for this level:
- Keep an eye out for horses dropping from maiden special weights into regular maiden competition. That has proven to be an edge over the years.
A look back at the Gulfstream Championship Meet
What a terrific meet.
A few things stood out.
Saturday’s first races often produced terrific payouts with longshots hitting the board. We’ll see if that carries over into the Royal Palm Meet.
There were two significant Rainbow 6 mandatory payouts. One occurred on March 5, with individual bettors each collecting more than $40,000.
On closing day, April 2, they netted more than $8,000 apiece for selecting the winners of the final six races.
The carryover pool leading to each mandatory payout was abundant, creating great individual betting pools each day.
Gulfstream Park was also the home of luminaries
Pletcher was the leading money-winning trainer and he annexed a record seventh Florida Derby. And he did it with America’s favorite horse, Forte, who surged in the final strides to win a thrilling Florida Derby.
It marked his second straight gigantic win at Gulfstream, including the Fountain of Youth.
Mage, who finished second, may graduate to the Kentucky Derby with Forte. There’s even a chance that Cyclone Mischief, who finished third, will be at Churchill Downs.
The Florida Derby has graduated the most winners of the Kentucky Derby at 24.
Tampa Bay Downs lineup
Friday has something for everyone.
There are limited fields of six, seven and eight horses during the first four races and fields of eight, nine and 10 throughout the final five. The card starts at 12:20 p.m.
On Saturday, it’s the Oldsmar Cup, which celebrates the longstanding relationship Tampa Bay Downs and the City of Oldsmar. Post time on Saturday is 12:05 p.m.
Big winners in Tampa
Two Tampa bettors hit for a great pop on the late Pick 5 Wager on Wednesday. It had a return of $38,604 on each 50-cent ticket. What can other gamblers take out of that?
You don’t always need a longshot to cash a monster ticket. The win prices were $11.40, $12.80, $12.80, $12 and $13.20. All were in the neighborhood of 5-to-1 and 6-to-1.
Excellent news for the handicappers.
Yes, all the winners beat the favorites. But the winning tickets probably combined both the favorites and mid-pack contenders.