by Jeremy Plonk
December 1, 2020
Gulfstream Park’s 2020-’21 Championship Meet springs from the gate Wednesday, Dec. 2 with its annual promise. From the Claiming Crown to the Pegasus World Cup to the Florida Derby, signature racing days join forces with a daily winter program second to none. We’ve dug into the Betmix database to help unearth some pertinent trends to get your Gulfstream Park Championship Meet off to a flying start.
The Championship Meet’s fastest starters among jockeys the past 3 Decembers have been Luis Saez (91 wins, 22%) and Irad Ortiz Jr. (60 wins, 26%). That’s no big surprise. But year-‘round Florida pilot Emisael Jaramillo has had the most carryover success among the locals with 64 wins and a 20% strike rate. Jaramillo nets a $1.10 ROI for every $1 bet during the first month of the meet since 2017, topping Saez ($1.04) and Ortiz ($0.90). And keep a price eye out for Paco Lopez’s mounts. While he’s a solid 17% winner, he’s a fantastic $1.41 ROI for every $1 bet to start the season.
Barns Worth Backing
Trainer Todd Pletcher not surprisingly leads active trainers in December winners at Gulfstream the past 3 years, notching 36 scores at a strong 27% strike rate. But even so, he’s just a $0.85 return on every $1 bet. Note 26 of his 36 wins are with favorites, and his win percentage with favorites is a highly reliable 48%. But keep an eye on these less-frequent trainers: Victor Barboza (13 wins, 32%, $1.87 ROI for every $1 bet), Brendan Walsh (6 wins, 18%, $1.47 and 12: 5-5-2 with Tyler Gaffalione aboard), Graham Motion (6 wins, 22%, $2.10) and Juan Arias (5 wins, 24% and the whopping $5.94 ROI).
The public betting choice wins 35% during December over the last 3 Championship Meets, a number slightly below the national average but pretty much on par. Jockeys who’ve performed best on favorites locally are Irad Ortiz Jr. (46%), John Velazquez (40%) and Luis Saez (40%). Trainers outperforming the average best include Mark Casse (50%), Victor Barboza (50%), Todd Pletcher (48%) and Saffie Joseph Jr. (47%). As for race classes, maiden claimers (39%) and allowance (38%) races were the only categories above the overall favorites’ average. Dirt favorites (38%) out-performed turf favorites (34%).
Melting Pot Mergers
With horses traveling south for the winter, the Championship Meet gathers a diverse cast geographically. Let’s look at the last 3 Decembers to kick off the meet. Gulfstream Park West runners own 247 wins, but only 10% success and an $0.81 ROI. Kentucky invaders (Churchill, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Turfway) won 81 races with a 17% strike rate and $0.92 ROI. NYRA shippers (Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga layoffs) have 74 wins, a 17% win rate and an $0.83 ROI. Delaware Park shippers scored 5 wins at 16% and a solid $0.94 ROI. New Jersey runners (Monmouth, Meadowlands) posted 15 wins with a 17% win rate and solid $0.95 ROI. But 9 of those 15 NJ winners came for since-suspended trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. Laurel shippers struggled at 8% and $0.51.
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