As horse racing grapples with the present circumstances, it reveals a glimpse of the future.

Online gamblers, like Garden State residents participating via 4NJBETS powered by TVG, are saving the sport. Betting handle, despite the absence of spectators, is dramatically exceeding what some tracks pay in purses.

This may enable them to survive.

In fact, some of the top racetracks in the US have quite a full slate of posts over the next few days including Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, and Gulfstream Park.

Churchill Downs: What’s driving the horse betting action

In a nutshell, the app has come to the rescue for NJ sports betting fans.

Churchill Downs, which returned over the weekend, reported impressive handle exceeding half a million dollars in practically every race.

And there were no bettors at the track (or at the closed AC casinos), indicating that wagers placed remotely made the business viable.

The key to this dynamic was the large size of fields. The horses scheduled to run in the original Churchill meet (which did not start on time because of the COVID-19 pandemic) have fewer days to do so and will ultimately swell the size of the fields. Some races had 18 entries for the opening day.

That has two benefits.

  • More betting options ensure a higher handle.
  • Large fields create exceptional betting values.

Churchill Downs returned with a flourish, sporting big fields and payouts that looked reasonably attainable.

The first race Saturday paid $5,859 for a $2 superfecta involving the 3-1, 2-1, 12-1, and 20-1 exact order of finish. The winning entry, 3-1 on the morning line, actually drifted up to 5-1 just before race time.

This paid extraordinarily well for favorites running in the first and second spots. In big fields, it’s hard to find the “right” longshots, but anyone who found the 20-1 and 12-1 shots here, and combined them with the favorites in a superfecta ticket, made a nice score.

Horse betting spotlight: Santa Anita

Santa Anita has been a signature track for horse racing.

The California track has held numerous prestigious races including both the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap.

It has also hosted the Breeders Cup, horse-racing’s multimillion-dollar signature fall weekend, a record 10 times.

Its second weekend back will be strong. There are two stakes races on Saturday. They are the Charles Whittingham and Daytona Stakes.

On Memorial Day, a special card includes three grades stakes. They are the Shoemaker Mile, the Gamely Stakes, and Monrovia Stakes.

The opening weekend featured several horses winning from the 4-1 to 6-1 odds range and a fair number of $1 trifectas paying more than $100. Bettors could take the favorites with confidence.

Here’s a hot tip: The “exotics” (exactas, trifectas, and superfectas) are always tantalizing.

But if you like a horse at 5-2 or higher, give it a high percentage of your bet on the win and place line. It is tempting to shoot for the big money, but few things frustrate a bettor more than picking the best horse in the race and not collecting because all the money went into the exotics.

Click here to get your first bet matched, up to $200 at TVG.

Best horse bets at Gulfstream Park

A jackpot pool guarantees of $900,000 in the 20-cent Rainbow pick six will greet bettors when Gulfstream Park resumes Thursday. The bettor must select the winner of six straight races.

The Rainbow went unsolved Sunday when multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $18.48

The carryover jackpot is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners.

On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

Thursday’s Rainbow 6 spans Races 5-11 and includes three races scheduled for the grass which attracted 43 entries, an average of 14.3 horses per race.

Early-race magic: Not as remote as it looks

It happens at Gulfstream Park, seemingly every weekend, in the early races.

A longshot creates a huge payout.

The second race Sunday paid $2,160 for a $1 superfecta. That payout implies that longshots lit up the board.

But here’s what happened. A 24-1 shot did win the race. But the three favored horses — at 6-5, 3-1 and 5-1 — ran second, third, and fourth. This is a great payout for a race in which favorites took three of the first four spots.

You would not necessarily have needed an inkling on the 24-1 bomb to collect this ticket. Part-wheeling the 6-5 shot in the second position with the other favorites and a couple of longshots, including the 24-1 race-winner, would have brought this home. You have to get lucky that the longshot wins and the 6-5 favorite stays second.

Sure, it’s hard to find the right longshot in a large field and yes, this is hindsight. But sometimes you can be half right (picking the favorite), half lucky (including the right longshot), and collect big.

Good luck this week.

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.