Wednesday, November 27, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - While Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet provides fans an opportunity to see many of the top horses and jockeys in the world, it can also be a bit of a puzzle for bettors looking to cash tickets and make a score.
“From a betting perspective, with so many top trainers and jockeys, it can be a little confusing,” said Gulfstream handicapper and host Acacia Courtney. “Positive statistics are important, but so are negative ones. For me, when you have two horses that both look competitive on paper coming into a race, that’s when recent statistics for trainers and jockeys can help.”
“There’s also the question of trainers who might excel in sprints or distance races, turf or dirt, claiming races or stakes,” said Gulfstream handicapper and host Ron Nicoletti. “There’s also trainer-jockey combinations to look at when putting together tickets.” For instance, Nicoletti said, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Jose Ortiz are a combined 7 for 17 (40 percent) over the past two years, trainer Kathleen O’Connell and jockey Luis Saez are 6 for 17 (35 percent) and the combination of Todd Pletcher and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is 15 for 52 (29 percent).
Courtney points to the combination of trainer Stanley Hough and jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who are 57 percent in the money with 23 starters the past year, while trainer Armando De la Cerda is 7 for 24 the past year with jockey Luis Saez in the saddle.
Host and handicapper Jason Blewitt will be looking at some “young guns” and former assistants during the Championship Meet. Former Jason Servis assistant Carlos David is winning at a 33 percent clip first off a claim while former Gustavo Delgado assistant, Jorge Delgado, is 30 percent off the claim.
Nicoletti adds that David’s average win payout was $16 while trainer Juan Rizo went 7 for 31 with a $25 average payout.
Blewitt is also looking at some more established trainers. “No news flash here, but looking back through last winter’s statistics I forgot just how dominant Jason Servis was,” he said. The trainer of Florida Derby winner Maximum Security, Servis finished third in the standings with a 35-13-9 record from 77 starters.
Courtney points out that Servis was 18 for 30 with favorites on the dirt last year with 87 percent of those runners finishing in the money.
Blewitt says to keep an eye on Lilli Kurtinecz. Of her 36 winners at Gulfstream since 2015, 31 have come on the turf (86 percent). Meanwhile, over the past six months, Peter Walder has won 18 of 58 races (31 percent). “He’s really dangerous in claiming races over the Gulfstream dirt with 75 wins over the last five years.”
“I think everyone wants to get off to a strong start,” Nicoletti said. “So I also look at trainers who start a meet strong with their first or second start at the meet.” He points to Tom Bush (4 for 16), Jeremiah Englehart (5 for 24) and Mark Hennig (18 percent), who have won with their first or second starter at the meet the past two years.
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