Best Horse Races Around the US for California Bettors: Aug. 6

California horse betting enthusiasts enjoying this weekend’s Del Mar meet also have a solid simulcast entry from the East Coast, including the biggest day of the year in harness racing.

Here’s a nationwide look at the East Coast circuit, accessible to California bettors via apps like TVG. Golden State gamblers can start looking for the action around 9 a.m. and have plenty to choose from before settling into Del Mar’s 2 p.m. first post.

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$1 Million Whitney Stakes Headlines Saratoga Card

The New York track unfurls some events gamblers know, and one they probably don’t.

The familiar event is the Whitney Stakes, worth $ 1 million. Life Is Good and Olympiad were set as the early favorites with Hot Rod Charlie right behind. The Whitney will air on NBC as part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series. It’s the East Coast race of the day, in terms of billing.

Top contenders:

HorseInfo
OlympiadComes off an impressive triumph in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs and holds a rare five-race win streak.
Life is GoodWas triumphant in the Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park.
Hot Rod CharlieHas been one of the sport’s hard-knocking perennial bridesmaids for the past couple of seasons. He has finished second three times in the past year.
Happy SaverEnters off a second in the Met Mile in New York.

As one of the most important races in the North American handicap division, the Whitney has been won by subsequent Champion Older Horses. That list includes:

  • Knicks Go (2021)
  • Improbable (2020)
  • Gun Runner (2017)
  • Honor Code (2015)
  • Blame (2010)

So, yes, bettors are familiar with the Whitney. But here’s a pleasant surprise many are just discovering.

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Triple Crown Turf Series

Saratoga unveils the second leg of a rapidly evolving Triple Crown Turf Series, an exceptional showcase. This is the grass equivalent of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

The first Turf Triple Series took place in 2019 at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. The 2022 edition for 3-year-olds kicked off with the Grade I, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, contested at 1 1/4 miles on the Belmont turf in July.

It was won in surprise fashion by Classic Causeway, a Kentucky Derby dirt hopeful who made his debut on the grass in search  of a big purse for his owners. He was allowed to obtain an early, yet relaxed lead and he basically stole it. By the time the field came thundering toward the 26-to-1 longshot, he was home.

Classic Causeway tries to annex the second jewel in the Turf Triple Crown in the Saratoga Derby. Should he prevail, Classic Causeway can try for the sweep at Belmont Park in the $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby in the fall.

Also featured Saturday is the Grade II, $250,000 Glens Falls for older fillies and mares traveling 1 1/2 miles over the inner turf.

On Sunday, the Saratoga Oaks is the filly version, for $ 700,000. McKulick, who fashioned a nice stalking trip to overcome a hot pace in the Belmont Invitational, is listed as probable for the Saratoga Oaks.

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Mountaineer Park, West Virginia

Mountaineer Park has a unique package for simulcast bettors on Saturday. Its top card of the season unfolds with:

  • The $ 500,000 West Virginia Derby
  • The $200,000 Governor’s Cup
  • Five separate races worth $75,000

California bettors who have followed the Triple Crown circuit will recognize some of these names entered in the West Virginia Derby.

Skippylongstocking was third in the Belmont Stakes.

We the People ran an excellent fourth, setting a strong pace with Skippylongstocking for the first 1 1/6 miles of a long, 1 1/2-mile race. The distance shortens here to 1 1/8 miles. If early speed is rewarded,  either of these horses may pair well.

Simplification was a good fourth in the Kentucky Derby and had a bullet work at Gulfstream Park in Florida before heading to West Virginian.

Home Brew was a dominant Pegasus winner at Monmouth Park. His trainer Brad Cox held Home Brew out of the Haskell, which he then won with Cyberknife. Cox pointed Home Brew to this race. Some bettors may like this decision.

The Governor’s Cup is a wide-open affair with 10 horses entered. It is highlighted by Mr. Wireless, who won the West Virginia Derby last year.

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Gulfstream Park, Florida

Gulfstream Park offers a betting contrast.

It has two respectable-level races in the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes and the Dr. Fager Stakes.

In between those two races, the track also has a wide-open free-for all, the 12-horse finale at a claiming level of $6,250. From a class standpoint, this is close to the bottom of the barrel. But from a wagering viewpoint, it may represent opportunity. Fields like this often reveal false favorites and a horse who improves a little could win at a big price.

At this level, horses often take turns beating each other.

Laurel Park, Maryland

Laurel Park in Maryland has a good race to look at: the $100,000 Searching Stakes on turf with 11 horses entered. Post time is at 12:44 p.m. PT and it’s the type of race that could breed a good payday.

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Harness Racing Mega-Summit

Here is something a little different to throw into the mix.

Saturday marks what’s known as “The Greatest Day in Harness Racing.”

It is the Hambletonian or “Hambo Day” at Meadowlands in New Jersey, available to California bettors beginning at 9 a.m. It is a 16-race card with about $3 million highlighted by:

  • The $1 million Hambletonian, the richest harness race for 3-year-old trotters, is the main event
  • The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks is the filly equivalent

California bettors may not see that much harness racing, so here are a couple ideas to help handicapping.

All the Meadowlands races are 1 mile. This makes past performance easier to assess compared to thoroughbred action, which has changes in distance almost every race. The Hambo and Oaks contestants also ran against each other last week in elimination heats. In the Hambo, four horses distinguished themselves in the trials.

Bettors will be focused on Rebuff and Jiggy Jog S, who won the elimination heats. Right with them was Joviality S and Temporal Hanover. Joviality S won the Yonkers Trot in New York last month and was nipped at the prelims wire by Jiggy Jog S and Temporal Hanover.

For the Oaks, Warrawee Xenia tries to continue a Cinderella Story. She went from nearly last to first, nipping 1-to-5 favorite  Fashion Schooner at the wire in one Oaks prelim.

In the other, Venerable toyed with the field and won. These names are the major contenders.

What’ s your pleasure?

The menu is extensive. Good luck.

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for California Casinos, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018.