HomeThe ShuffleBetting the Ponies? Watch The Jockeys, Too

Betting the Ponies? Watch The Jockeys, Too

The Kentucky Derby is off until fall, but horse races continue at some of the other U.S. tracks, including Oaklawn Park, Gulfstream and Los Alamitos.

What, no baseball? No hockey playoffs? No NBA?

Most major-league sports remain on ice, but horse racing goes on. There’s no better time to check out the sport of kings.

You’ll find interesting action at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Let’s look at the tracks and the riders you should watch.

Oaklawn Park

Oaklawn often sits under the radar below Keeneland Race Course and Churchill Downs. But Keeneland isn’t running this spring, and Churchill Downs has moved the Kentucky Derby from the first Saturday in May to September 5.

But Oaklawn continues running and has moved its Arkansas Derby to May 2, the closing day.

There’s a sizzling hot riding title race going on here. This means that leading rider Joseph Talamo and runners-up Ricardo Santana, David Cohen and Martin Garcia entered this week separated by only three victories.

The lead could flip-flop several times before the end of the meet. Jockeys take great pride in riding titles, not only for possible short-term incentives, but as accomplishments to widen their careers.

On Friday, Cohen has eight mounts. Talamo and Santana have four apiece, and Garcia has three. (Some of this could change closer to Friday).

Expect these jockeys to be extra-motivated over the next few weeks. If two of them run in the same race, they might be a good exacta bet (picking the first two finishers, in exact order).

There’s a good trainer-jockey connection too. Cohen looks to be the choice rider for Robertino Diodoro, the training leader during this meet. Being the preferred jockey for the leading trainer gives a jockey more mounts with contending horses.

That’s good for bettors to know.

The Arkansas Derby starts Saturday, May 2 at 2:05 p.m. EST.

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Gulfstream Park

gulfstreams-fountain-of-youth-kicks-off-pre-derby-racesGulfstream has a better-than-average meet due to the closing of Keeneland, where many jockeys were scheduled to go after the Gulfstream winter meet. Without that option, Gulfstream is keeping a few jockeys on board for the spring meet.

Keep your eyes on jockeys Luis Saez and Tyler Gaffalione, both of whom have been riding well.

But be aware that fan favorite Paco Lopez just suffered a thumb injury, and will miss four to six weeks.

First post at Gulfstream on the weekends is usually 1 p.m. EST.

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More Action for Race Fans

  • Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Florida usually runs a full weekend slate with large fields. Races start at 12:25 p.m. EST.
  • Remington Park in Oklahoma City offers distances ranging from 300 to 870 yards. Races start at 7 p.m. EST on Fridays.
  • Los Alamitos in Orange County, California has post times of 9 p.m. EST Fridays and Saturdays, and 8 p.m. Sundays.

Keep in mind, in 300-yard races, the break is everything. The winning time can be in the 15-second to 16-second range. There’s more strategy in the 870-yard races, because they involve a turn.

In recent cards, horses from the middle-post positions have performed best in the 870-yard races.

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Dave Bontempo, a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, has covered sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, HBO and Showtime and called boxing matches on every major network. Dave is a winner of the Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence given by the Boxing Writers Association of America, and is a member of both the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame. He writes regularly for iGamingPlayer.com and Global Gaming Business magazine.

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