Horse racing unfurls endless opportunities and considerations.

New Jersey sports betting fans recently learned Monmouth Park delayed the opening of its racing season.

Even so, horse betting enthusiasts have a rare chance to wager tracks they would not always play, given the TVG-powered 4NJBETS vehicle and the sharp reduction in overall spring racing.

Tracks currently operating are:

  • Oaklawn Park in Arkansas
  • Gulfstream Park in Florida
  • Tampa Bay Downs in Florida
  • Remington Park in Oklahoma
  • Los Alamitos in California

They run mostly Fridays through Sundays, but there are some Wednesday and Thursday cards tossed in, too. The entire day’s lineup will appear each morning at 4NJBETS.

You can access pre-race information by obtaining a daily racing form or even by observing the entries, listing jockeys, trainers, owners and race distance, available at DRF.com.

A nice education and some additional feel for the races can also be found by watching the pre-race handicap shows and the replay shows available on individual track websites. All tracks listed have the replay shows.

Let’s examine some information and variables.

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How you can use the jockeys race

In the money percentage regarding riders is perhaps the most valued handicapping tool.

Oaklawn’s top four jockeys finished in the money, meaning first, second or third, between 41%-45% of the time through Saturday’s card.

That means the horses they ride figure in exacta (the top two finishers in order), trifecta (top three) and even superfecta (top four) payouts roughly half the time.

The big-name jockeys at Oaklawn are:

  • Ricardo Santana
  • Joe Talamo
  • David Cohen
  • Martin Garcia

Through the lens of 20-20 hindsight, here’s one example of how that information could translate into a wagering victory.

On Saturday, Santana won with an 8-1 choice and Talamo’s medium-priced horse was third. An ultra-longshot ran second and the $1 trifecta returned more than $2,558.

That’s a significant payout, longer than one might expect from two leading jockeys.

How could a gambler have zoomed in on this? If you liked the riding angle, this was more within the realm of possibility than one might think.

A $1 trifecta box with three horses costs only $6. You could have taken a string of $1 boxes, putting the Santana and Talamo horse in each ticket.

With $18, for example, you could have three different trifecta box tickets. By putting the Santana and Talamo horse on each ticket, you have three different horses to complete the trifecta picture with them potentially. The hope is for a longshot to get in the ticket with the Santana and Talamo horses as it did here.

Using the trainers’ angle

The trainers’ angle is also significant.

Robertino Diodora is the leading trainer with 49 wins and a 52% in-the-money percentage.

Hal-of-Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has 40 victories and a smaller in-the-money percentage at 41%, but he wins bigger races. Asmussen has won more than  $3.5 million and Diodora just shy of $2 million through April 18.

Another big name is Brad Cox, who has earned just more than $2.1 million in this meet, is third in wins, and first for in-the-money percentage at 53%.

Just as you would with jockeys, give a good look to horses trained by Asmussen, Diodoro and Cox. The same would go for M and M Racing, by far the most successful owner in this meet.

But don’t forget the “reverse” angle. Do you like going against the pack? The top trainers and jockeys will lure significant betting dollars, often more than they should, because of their connections alone.

If you don’t like one of their entries and the horse you select wins the race, the payout will be handsome.

Oaklawn generally runs at 2:05 p.m. EST, Thursday through Sunday, but Saturday cards are often moved up about 30 minutes.

Around the horse racing circuit

If a favorite run out of the money in a large field, opportunity abounds.

At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the $1 trifecta box paid $279 in the first race. And that’s with a 2-1 favorite in the second position and a 3-1 choice in third. A 5-1 pick ran fourth, meaning the favorites did not run badly.

But the money was made because a 20-1 shot captured the race. One of the favorites, a 3-1 shot, ran completely out of the money.

The $1 superfecta returned $1,465.

Gulfstream Park enjoys a better-than-expected spring meet, with the cancellation of Keeneland’s April campaign keeping more jockeys in the area and most likely enhancing the size of these fields.

Gulfstream runs at 1 p.m. EST for most of its cards, but many Saturdays are 12:45 p.m. EST.

Remington’s top names for betting consideration

James Flores has been the top jockey here. Also performing well are:

  • Juan Pulido
  • Cody Rodger Smith
  • Rickey Ramirez

Ramirez and Flores both rode a couple of winners on Saturday.

Eddie Willis is the top trainer, while Dee Keener and Blane Wood have also figured prominently. Jose Guzman is, far and away, the leading owner.

Remington just announced a scheduling change. It will run at 7 p.m. EST from Thursday through Sunday.

The track runs races between 220-660 yards.

Los Alamitos: Chalks run better

The California track, which usually starts at 9 p.m. EST on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, holds races between four 1-2 furlongs and 300 yards.

The first distance involves a turn and middle post positions have been doing well. The 300-yard distance is a pure sprint, combined with the luck of the break.

This track is often midsized, and while the payouts are not substantial, the favorites run relatively well.

Tampa Bay: Some good betting value

The Florida track advertises a 17% takeout for win, place and show bets, one of the lowest in the nation.

This is good to note for gamblers who prefer the win line over the exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering pools.

Tampa Bay has good-sized fields and has generally rewarded early speed.

Its cards start in the neighborhood of 12:25 p.m. EST.

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.