Gulfstream has been anything but old hat for a while now, and this year the track has made a concerted effort to be a little more hospitable to horseplayers, both on track and off.
As for the nuts and bolts, the meet will run through April 24 with its centerpiece event, the Florida Derby, on April 3, the first time the Grade 1 has been held on a Sunday.
After a one year hiatus, it has been pushed forward a week and a day, five weekends before the Kentucky Derby. Racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, the only exceptions being two holiday Mondays.
Prior to the holidays, we posted a story relative to the Dime Pick Six and have received a clarification on those rules. Styled after the Beulah Dime Six, 40 percent of the day’s pool is carried over to the next day in the form of a jackpot; call it a jackpot-carryover, not a carryover in the conventional sense.
That money will stay in the jackpot pool until the day there is one lone winner of Pick Six. At Beulah Park, there was a payout of over $300,000 to one lone winner, say the reward can be substantial.
The one rule change involves a post time scratch, which moves the ticket holder to the post time favorite. In the event of a lone bettor having the Pick Six more than once because of the post-time favorite provision, that lone winner will be entitled to the jackpot payout.
This wasn’t originally my understanding of the wager and I’m no longer as excited about playing it as I was when my understanding was that there would be a conventional carryover.
Under the current rules, the initial takeout would be prohibitive and generally I’m not in favor of a few players winning a lot as opposed to a lot of players sharing the proceeds. It’s about keeping more players liquid; it’s about churn.
On it’s face, the Dime Six has a takeout rate of 20 percent. However, the wager that seems to have most bettors excited is the 50-Cent Pick 5 with a 15 percent rake, a la Monmouth Park this summer. Handle exploded in this pool on the Jersey Shore and it should be very successful at Gulfstream.
Fractional Pick 4s are also available. The Dime Six, Pick 5 and late Pick 4 will come within the day’s final six races, meaning the better races on the card, a South Florida menu staple.
A total of 71 horses have been entered in today’s final six races, including the featured G3 Old Hat for newly turned 3-year-old fillies. Happy birthday juveniles of 2010!
The focus, however, will be sophomores of the male persuasion, of course, and there probably are by some accounts as many as 30 potential Derby colts among the 4,000 horses in South Florida, occupying stalls at Gulfstream, Calder, Palm Meadows, Payson Park and Palm Beach Downs.
Palm Meadows is the winter home of certain 2010 Juvenile champion Uncle Mo, along with three other promising Derby colts and geldings among the 100 horses trainer Todd Pletcher has stabled at the Boynton Beach facility.
Palm Meadows has been the winter home of four of the last five Derby winners. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runnerup Boys At Tosconova is also stabled at Palm Meadows with Rick Dutrow. ‘Boys’ is expected to debut in the one-turn, one-mile Holy Bull, January 29.
Speaking of the probable Juvenile Eclipse exacta, we asked Cary Fotias of Equiform to research the performance figures of about two dozen three-year-olds. These are the top five, just from a performance figure perspective.
Of those that have been seriously campaigned at 2, the two fastest were, as expected, Uncle Mo and Boys At Tosconova, earning a 78-3/4s and 78, respectively, on the Equiform scale, excellent figures for juveniles.
‘Boys’’ was earned in a summer sprint at Belmont Park, then ran a very worthy 76-3/4s in the Juvenile with good energy distribution.
Uncle Mo has been, as one might suspect, routinely spectacular. Opening with a compressed 77 in his Spa debut, he returned with a tight-line 75 (good distribution) in the Champagne, ending with a reversed 78-3/4s in the Juvenile, an excellent development pattern.
That figure, incidentally, would win some Kentucky Derbies. Not this year, however. This was an extremely strong crop of two-year-olds at the top level.
Next in line comes Remsen winner To Honor and Serve, who never has taken a backward step on the Equiform scale and earned a compressed 77 in winning the nine furlong Remsen.
The fourth best route figure from a another colt with a favorable looking pattern is Remsen runnerup Mucho Macho Man with a compressed 75-½, a late foal whose style indicates that he probably would benefit from more ground.
And, of course, even taking into account the extremely fast nature of the Santa Anita surface opening day, The Factor ran an other worldly 78 off a New Pace Top of 80, making him a colt that knows how to finish a fast race.