I understand the sentiment. We’ve all been there. Don’t risk cutting into next weekend’s bankroll to play non Grade 1 races this go around. After all, we’re a week from the Breeders’ Cup and the gigantic pools, huge payouts and superstar horses, trainers and jockeys that come with it.
But instead of skipping this weekend, why not take the other approach – try to make some smart bets this go around and bring a bigger bankroll to the table next Saturday?
There’s plenty of good racing, headlined by the return of Del Mar, a pair of Mandatory Payouts, stakes in New York and harness racing’s year-end championships this Friday and Saturday.
Here are my top three reasons to take a shot this weekend:
GULFSTREAM WEST & BELMONT MANDATORY PAYOUTS
Who doesn’t love the words ‘mandatory payout’? After all, that phrase is an invitation for a huge influx of money and an opportunity to win bigger than normal.
On Saturday, Gulfstream Park West has a Mandatory Payout of their Rainbow 6 and track officials already estimate the pool should exceed $1 million. And between us, generally when they say “should exceed $1 million,” it ends up closer to double that.
Then on Sunday, Belmont’s Closing Day card greets us with Mandatory Payouts in all pools, including their 20-cent Empire Pick 6. The carryover in the Empire 6 was $299,828 heading into Thursday’s card and Sunday’s pool should also land in the seven-figures.
BET THE BREEDERS CROWN
Harness racing’s premier year-end event, the Breeders Crown, takes place this Friday and Saturday night at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana.
The ‘Crown features four events on Friday – all limited to two-year-olds- and eights events on Saturday for three-year-olds and older horses. All of the top harness horses are in action, including Gimpanzee, Manchego, Shartin N, Party Girl Hill (a perfect 14-for-14 in her career), Kissin in the Sand, Atlanta, Bettor’s Wish and Tall Drink Hanover (19-for-21).
Friday night’s card features a $40,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 (Races 12 – 15) and Saturday’s card is loaded with great betting opportunities, including a $40,000 Guaranteed All-Breeders Crown Late Pick 4 (Races 12 – 15), an All-Breeders Crown Pick 5 (Races 11 – 15) and Pick 6 (Races 10 – 16) and a $20,000 Guaranteed (non jackpot) High 5 with 12% takeout on Race 15.
Bet the Breeders Crown with Xpressbet to take advantage of a Money-Back Guarantee on all twelve championship races. To qualify, bet up to $10 on your horse to win any – or all – of those races and you’ll get your money back each time your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd.
First post is 6:00PM ET each night.
BIG STAKES IN NEW YORK
While most of the ‘big’ horses are waiting to race next weekend, Saturday’s races at Belmont are loaded with familiar faces, including:
Zagora Stakes (Race 6): While not quite BC Filly & Mare Turf caliber, fillies and mares like Beau Belle, Olympic Games, Hungry Kitten and Luck Money have established form, while French-import Mutamakina looks to be the latest European horse to blossom under the tutelage of Christophe Clement.
Awad Stakes (Race 8): The 1-2-3 finishers from the Laurel Futurity on the Preakness undercard square off again, as Catman (Maker), Wootton Asset (Motion) and Kidnapped (Jo. Servis) represent top barns. They square off against Step Dancer and Shawdyshawdyshawdy who were 3rd and 4th respectively in the G2 Pilgrim. With the top two finishers from that race off to the Breeders’ Cup, this is a great barometer. And furthermore, with an overflow 13-horse field, this race has the potential to go any direction.
G3 Bold Ruler Handicap (Race 9): Bettors should be familiar with Phat Man. He’s unraced since February but was in phenomenal form at Gulfstream and he’s run well at Belmont before in the past. Share the Ride is probably the speed of the speed and won the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth in September. Mihos is a fan-favorite, but his deep-closing kick.
No matter where you land, good luck this weekend!