Best Races Around North America for California Simulcast Horse Bettors – Sept. 10

California horse bettors, here’s one more Saturday turf spectacular for simulcast wagering.

Kentucky Downs offers a loaded simulcast card starting at 8:30 a.m. Its 12-race card packs full fields, three $1 million races, and others close to that value. No race is under six figures.

And the takeout percentage for win, place, and show is 16%, the best in the country. Takeout is the amount of money taken off the top of every dollar bet that goes toward purses for horsemen, taxes, and the track’s share. Among bettors, this has long been a grievance against an industry taking 20, 25 and sometimes 30% out.

Gamblers face a winning probability similar to the Big Wheel at the casinos and seek an alternative, usually a legalized sports bet. Racetracks counter with takeout percentages in the 15% range for Pick 4s, 5s, and 6s, but Kentucky Downs does it all the time.

No wonder bettors love it. Gamblers may swear they’ve lived and gone to heaven. Every card is a festival, a near Breeders’ Cup.

Here’s the outlook for Saturday.

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Kentucky Downs

The 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup may be the highlight, a Belmont Stakes distance on turf.

A $1 million turf sprint covers six furlongs.

The $1 million Mint Star Million is contested over 1 mile.

The races that can’t even generate the top headline include the $750,000 Ladies Turf.

According to the racetrack, Kentucky Downs is home to America’s only European-style (all turf) racetrack, and at 1 5/16 miles in length, it is one of the longest tracks in the nation. Unlike other racetracks, which are typically oval, the course at Kentucky Downs is kidney-shaped, featuring undulation and a unique right-hand bend. 

The track’s average field size of about 11 horses per race also tops America. This, combined with the rallying potential horses display on turf, can produce excellent payouts, race after race.

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How to Approach Betting on Kentucky Downs Races

Big fields may encourage gamblers to cover more options and thus must be approached cautiously.

Gamblers can handicap the events via the Daily Racing Form (which they can purchase near where they live, at a local track, or online) and try to hone in on which races to make a move.

It’s also smart to watch some of the earlier races, get a feel from where the winning horse usually makes their move, and try to play a horse that fits that style.

Bet Types for a Big Field

Consider the 10-cent superfecta keys. For $12, a gambler can key one horse with five others in the first and second positions.

Example: You like the 1 horse and want to combine him with the 2-through-6.

Take a 10-cent superfecta key with the 1 on top. The horse must finish first and any combo of the remaining horses must fill the second-through-fourth positions. Or take a 10-cent superfecta key with the 1 second. Any combo of the remaining horses must fill in first, third, and fourth.

In a big field, the 10-center may pay pretty well, especially if a favorite doesn’t win. But even if a favorite does, the field is so big that the price usually won’t be prohibitive.

Also consider the win and place bet. 

In a big field, horses may give better value than at other times. Take advantage of the low takeout.

A horse that may normally pay 4-to-1 in a small field might pay 7-to-1 here. To some gamblers, this is simple. Take the bet and slam it. This way, you don’t worry about who runs second, third, or fourth if your horse wins.

In any case, try to set an overall budget, pick out the races worth going bigger on, and don’t be afraid to ignore some of them.

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Other Horse Racetracks to Watch This Weekend

The Saratoga meet, the East Coast version of the star-studded Del Mar program, closed on Labor Day.

The New York circuit picks up at Aqueduct Sept. 15.

Woodbine, outside of Toronto, has a 10-race Saturday card that starts at 10 a.m. PT. The headlined race is the $125,000 Toronto Cup on turf. The final race has 11 horses, a good-sized field for a $95,000 purse. Good payday potential.

Monmouth Park in New Jersey has an 11-race Saturday card that starts at 9:15 a.m. The track features the $100,000 Presious Passion Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf and a field of 12 for the finale.

Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore features a Saturday card starting at 9:40 a.m. Highlights include the $200,000 Baltimore Washington International Turf Cup$100,000 All Along Stakes, and $100,000 Lite the Fuse Stakes.

At least 10 horses are entered in Races 2, 5, and 6.

Gulfstream Park is up to its old tricks on Saturday. The card starts at 9:25 a.m. The first race is a bottom-of-the-barrel, $12,500 affair. But it has a 12-horse field. That could mean false favorites. Whether or not a big payday emerges, this is the breeding grounds for it.

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Saluting Longshot Winners Last Weekend

Here are some examples of nice payouts from tracks last weekend that fit into two categories:

  1. The favorite runs in the money
  2. The favorite runs out

Gulfstream provided example No. 2.

It was maiden-claiming $32,000 and a big field at Gulfstream Park for last Saturday’s fifth race. The breeding grounds for a big payday did it again. To start with, there were seven first-time starters in the race. 

Mister Beams captured the race at 8-to-1. Boy o’Boy was second to complete a $322 exacta. My Eagle Soars finished third at 9-to-2 and wrapped up a $1 trifecta worth $675.

Tuniga captured a photo for fourth, at 17-to-1 and completed a $2 superfecta worth $11,139. That meant $5,569 for the $1 super and $556.95 for the 10-center.

What happened? Charlie Lightning, the 6-to-5 favorite, laid an egg. He was nowhere to be seen in the race, but he commandeered a lot of money. Because he ran off the board, payoffs were enhanced at every level.

Saratoga produced a couple of bargains with the favorites doing well on Saturday.

In the 12th race, the entry of Tough Street and Jet Set Juliet went off at a prohibitive price of 1-to-2. You can’t bet that on the win line. But after they finished first and second, 51-to-1 shot Carlann nabbed third and 6-to-1 shot Quiet Time was fourth.

Get a load of this payout: The $1 trifecta paid $936. That’s with the most popular horses in the race winning.

How bettors may have cashed: Taking the entry on top of four or five horses. If you believe this combo was unbeatable, a $1 trifecta key with four horses underneath costs $12. Example is 1 over the 2-3-4-5. Some might even go for $20, adding a fifth horse as in 1 over the 2-3-4-5-6.

This type of bet is reserved for the occasion when you believe a horse absolutely can’t lose, but that you also can’t make money on the win line. You’d have to figure a big longshot runs second or third.

In this case it did, and paid astonishingly well.

Another good one occurred with the favorite running second. That happened in the Spinaway Stakes.

The favorite, Wonder Wheel, went off at 7-to-5. He ran second to Leave No Trace, 14-to-1. Kaling was third at 7-to-2.

The $2 exacta was $102.50.

The $1 trifecta paid $147.

Now, anyone who liked Leave No Trace could get that return by playing him to win.

But if Wonder Wheel was one’s favorite horse, the $1 trifecta key costing $12 could have returned $147.

The bettor would place Wonder Wheel in the first and second position with three other horses. In this situation, the perfect scenario played out. The favorite was second and a longshot was first.

There was another route that could have produced this ticket.

The bettor puts Wonder Wheel, the 9 horse, and Kaling, the 1 horse, in separate $1 trifecta box tickets. Leave No Trace was the 6 horse. The ticket would read $1 trifecta box 1, 6, 9. In this approach, the gambler probably played a couple of these boxes, using the favored 9 and 1 horses in all of them, hoping for a longshot to complete the trifecta.

Do you have a Bombs Away bet in you this weekend?

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.