Why We Love Gulfstream, Part 1

THE CHALLENGE OF GRASS RACING
No Trends, No Biases, No Angles
WHY WE LOVE GULFSTREAM – PART ONE

There are so many things that a bettor looking for square value has to like about Gulfstream Park that it is difficult to know where to begin.

The difficulty in staying ahead in the game of thoroughbred wagering, or for that matter breaking even, which many horseplayers would be happy to settle for, is finding a handicapping methodology that produces consistency.

Handicappers will look day-to-day for biases. Is speed holding or collapsing? Do pressers and/or stalkers have an advantage or do full fields lead to an edge for deep closers? Those same handicappers might then pare down their live runners further by looking for post position advantages overall or post position advantages at different distances and whether or not the races are run on dirt or turf.

For a meet such as the current one at Gulfstream where barns from all over the country, especially those from cold weather northern areas such as Canada, New York, Illinois and New Jersey or even in Kentucky where Turfway Park is synthetic and no grass, handicappers will track which shippers do better than others.

When it comes to grass racing at Gulfstream Park, however, none of that matters, because there are no specific trends, biases or angles that produce any consistency. There is no "Holy Grail". There is only race-by-race specified handicapping in which projected running styles (projecting how the number of speed, presser, stalker and tracker types match up) and a careful study of trip handicapping can move you in the right direction.

Before we continue with a summary of what we mean by all this, let’s take a look at four days of turf racing at Gulfstream…Fri. Dec. 13 through Thurs. Dec. 19. Over that period there were 18 races run at distances between 7 ½ and 8 ½ furlongs. There was a turf sprint, but that wasn’t used for this discussion.

Below are the 19 races listed by the three distances…7 ½ furlongs, 1 Mile and 1 1/16th Miles. We have posted the winner of each race and noted the following factors:

1) Name of the Winner, what that horse paid and where that horse made his previous start.
2) Class of the Race and Number of Horses that ran.
3) Position at first and second call and at the stretch call of the winning horse and how many lengths off the lead that horse was at that point of call as well as the fractional times of the lead horse at each of those same points of call.

Following the posting of this information we will summarize.

7 ½ FURLONG TURF RACES
12/13 – GLENSTAL ABBEY - $7.60 – (First Time Starter)
35K Maiden Claimer…10 Runners
8(6)…4 (1 ½)…1
24…48 1/5…1:12…1:30 2/5
12/15 – BAFFLE ME - $4.00 – (Belmont)
Stakes Race…12 Runners
2 (1/2)…2 (1/2)…1
24…48 1/5…1:12 2/5…1:30 3/5

1 MILE RACES
12/13 – TAKEOFF YOUR HAT - $10.40 – (Aqueduct)
75K Maiden Claimer (2 year olds)…11 Runners
4(2)…5(2)…4(2)
25 1/5…50…1:13 3/5…1:25 3/5…1:37 3/5
12/13 – LEMON POINT - $6.00 – (Gulfstream)
2nd Level Allowance (2 Year Olds)…12 Runners
2(1/2)…2(1/2)…1
24 3/5…50…1:13 4/5…1:25 2/5…1:37 2/5
12/14 – DREAMALOT - $17.60 – (Keeneland)
25K Maiden Claimer…14 Runners
9(4 1/4()…8(5 1/2)…3(1/2)
25…49 3/5…1:14 3/5…1:27 1/5…1:39 4/5
12/14 – ROPE A DOPE - $19.20 – (Keeneland)
Entry Level Allowance…14 Runners
7(5)…7(4)…4(1 ½)
23 3/5…48 2/5…1:13 2/5…1:26 2/5…1:39 4/5
12/14 – TARGET SIGHTED - $6.00 – (Laurel)
16K Claimer…13 Runners
11(8 ½)…11(6 ½)…1
23 4/5…49…1:13 4/5…1:27…1:39 1/5
12/15 – LOVE THAT KELLY - $8.20 – (Belmont)
25K Maiden Claimer…14 Runners
6(4)…7(3 ½)…2(1 ½)
24 3/5…49 1/5…1:13 3/5…1:26 1/5…1:39
12/15 – MEUSER - $6.60 – (Belmont)
75K Maiden Claimer (2 Year Olds)…14 Runners
10(7 ½)…9(4 ½)…1
24…50 1/5…1:15 1/5…1:27 2/5…1:39 2/5
12/19 – ERIUGENA - $8.20 – (Kentucky Downs)
30K Claimer…12 Runners
10(6 ¼)…10(6 ¼)…2(1)
24…48 1/5…1:12 1/5…1:24…1:35
12/19 – DUFF ONE - $20.80 – (Belmont)
Entry Level Allowance (2 Year Olds)…10 Runners
10(8)…10(8 ¼)…4 (2)
23 1/5…47…1:10 4/5…1:23…1:35 1/5

1 1/16th MILE RACES
12/13 –
ALKE JOHN - $49.80 – (Meadowlands)
16K Claimer…11 Runners
4(1 ¼)…4(1 ¼)…1
25 2/5…50…1:13 3/5…1:36 4/5…1:42 4/5
12/14 – LOCHTE - $4.60 – (Gulfstream)
Maiden Special Weight…10 Runners
4(2 ½)…3(1)…1
24 3/5…49 2/5…1:13 1/5…1:37 1/5…1:43 1/5
12/15 – LONGING FOR QUIET - $8.20 – (Meadowlands)
16K Claimer…14 Runners
3(1 ½)…4(2 ¾)…3(1)
25 3/5…50 1/5…1:14 2/5…1:38 4/5…1:45
12/15 – STARSHIP JODI - $83.80 – (Gulfstream)
Entry Level Allowance - 13
1…1…1
24 1/5…48 1/5…1:12 1/5…1:36 1/5…1:42
12/19 – MUTASADDER - $53.80) – (Arlington)
16K Claimer…12 Runners
7(5)…8(5 ¼)…3(1)
24…48…1:11 4/5…1:36 2/5…1:42 2/5
12/19 – SILVER FREAK - $4.40 – (Woodbine)
Entry Level Allowance…10 Runners
1…1…1
:22 3/5…45 3/5…1:09 1/5…1:33…1:39 1/5
12/19 – ELUSIVE DESIGN – $7.80 - (Aqueduct)
16K Claimer…11 Runners
3(2)…3(2)…2(2)
23 1/5…47 4/5…1:12 1/5…1:36 4/5…1:43

Looking at those statistics you can see that there is virtually no way you can discern any strong patterns.

*Two winners went wire-to-wire
*Seven winners ran from between ½ and 3 lengths off the leaders for the first two calls
*The remaining nine winners ran from between 8 ½ and 3 ½ l2ngths off the leader at first call and from between 6 ½ and 3 ½ lengths off the leader at second call.


CONCLUSION:
Race riding rather than surface biases were paramount. And even in matching these races up when horses exit them to race back against each other it is essential to see how the times for equal distances changed after the three day break from the 12/13 to 12/15 samples followed by the 12/19 samples. Obviously the surface changed. A true handicapper finds out if the turf dried out and the dogs were placed at different distances from the rail, or the turf was cut or rolled, etc.

*17 of the 18 Winners (one was a first time starter) ran their previous race at 10 different race tracks.

CONCLUSION: It would be counter-productive to latch on to one shipped-from location over another. Bettors often make the mistake of favoring more visible race tracks such as Belmont over less visible locales such as Meadowlands and Arlington and that leads to over-betting on Belmont and the availability of payouts such as $49.80 from Alke John (Meadowlands) and $53.80 from Mutasadder (Arlington)

*Field size is huge. There were no fewer than 10 horses that ran in any of the 18 sample races with 14 runners leaving the gate in five races. The average size of the eighteen fields was 12.2 horses.
*Prices, as you’d expect from such full and competitive fields were square. There were no odds-on winners, only three paid between $4.00 and $4.60…five more paid between $6.00 and $7.80…another four paid between $8.20 and $10.40…while the remaining six paid between $17.60 and $83.80…including $49.80 and $53.80 payoffs.


CONCLUSION:
It is worth belaboring those payoffs. A full 33% of the winners averaged a return of $40.85.

No Trends…No Biases…No Angles. Handicapping turf races at Gulfstream Park is indeed a challenge and not for the uninformed or inexperienced bettor. But if you truly know how to project how these races will set up and be run, you can see the rewards.

In PART TWO OF THIS SERIES…which will be published on these pages on Christmas Eve…we’ll take a look at Gulfstream 2-year old races and see if there are any useful patterns there. In the meantime…stay involved, and remember that you can always get Jim Hurley's best bets with his C.A.S.H. Racing Service!

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