Horses running better without bad weather

Feb 6, 2001 6:26 AM

The first half of the Gulfstream Park meet is behind us and we have the inside stuff to make the final five weeks lucrative.

The first two weeks saw an average win payoff of $7.92-$1. The last three weeks have shown that a "race over the track" is almost necessary to get into the winner’s circle here in Hallandale. Once a horse has been over the oval, you get a better feel for that horse’s potential, rather than of an animal coming from another circuit or coming off a layoff.

This has brought the average payoff down to $6.71-$1. The average exotic payoffs have also come down the past three weeks.

As far as speed biases have gone, speed is still king at the sprint distances of six and seven furlongs. At 6½ furlongs, you need to be just off (but not necessarily directly on) the lead to have a shot. Also in sprints, the inside post positions haven’t won as much as the outside posts. This appears to be caused by the outside horses crossing over in front of the inside horses as they leave the seven-furlong chute onto the main track.

At the route distances of 1 mile-70 yards, 11/16th and 11/8th mile distances, lone speed doesn’t hurt.

If there’s any type of speed duel, though, an off-the-lead running style has been getting the lion’s share of victories.

Post position biases are evident at these distances. If your horse has an outside post, you better have tons on the best horse, as you won’t be getting anything close to as good a trip as the inside posts.

Up to this point in the meet, we’ve had very little precipitation. Consequently, the turf course is beginning to show the usual wear and tear. The turf maintenance crew has done the best job possible in temporary rail placement to minimize the "chewing up" of the sod.

In races run on the turf, early speed has been important but not essential. Stalkers and closers have won on this surface, too. The rail and inside posts have won more races than outside posts in turf routes.

However, in races at 11/16th miles on the turf started out of the chute, it appears the outside post horses "pinch in" the inside post horses as they cross onto the main track. This disadvantage is minimized by a horse breaking from the inside that shows any early speed.

Anyone willing to invest time into watching and analyzing the track conditions and speed/post position biases, then applying these important factors into their handicapping, can obviously have a huge advantage. This is a racetrack where biases, when they develop, can be used for maximum potential.

The trainers’ race is beginning to tighten up, with Billy Mott forging to the front with 13 wins. Mark Hennig is second with 11 (six of which were ridden by Jerry Bailey). Allen Iwinski is third with nine. Manny Tortora is fourth with eight — all of which came at the start of the meet.

Jorge Chavez, who suffered a disqualification Sunday, still has a substantial lead with 37 wins. The next seven riders are: Jerry Bailey, 30; Edgar Prado, 26; Eibar Coa, 25; John Velazquez, 22; Rene Douglas and Pat Day, both with 19; and Richard Migliore, 16. It will be interesting to see if Chavez is given a suspension for the DQ, the only chance the other riders might have to catch him.

Horses to watch:

BIG VIRG — Broke from tough post in sprint and clicked off blistering fractions of 21.80/44.85; flattened out like a luncheonette flap jack

GINO’S SPIRIT — Broke from a very difficult post; rallied three wide. Must

be given another shot for trouble-free trip.

GOTTA BE A STAR — Checked and never had chance to recover while well bet for Norman Pointer, who’s having good meet.

ITHINKICANFLY — Off slow and bounced around at break; made four wide move. Better break and ground-saving trip will bring better dividends.

RED RIVER SHOWDOWN — Off slow from extremely bad post at 6½ for sharp outfit. Won’t be long.

TIGER IN THE TANK — Danny Hurtak trainee lost all interest after getting terrible trip in 3 and 4 path. Will find way to get 60 percent soon.

WHIRL’S FLAME — Hesitated at start in bet down to favorite role. Will do well for new connections.

Gulfstream goings

The turf course will be used this weekend for both stakes races highlighted by the 16th running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap Saturday. Jerry Bailey has won six of the last nine runnings of this Grade 1 event, including the last two aboard Yagli and Royal Anthem, respectively. For this year’s renewal, Manndar was shipped in from California for trainer Beau Greely off a game second in the San Gabriel (G2) at Santa Anita and two Grade 1 victories last year . . . Captain Steve, winner of the Donn Handicap (G1), came out of the race in good shape and will be flown back to Santa Anita to prepare for the world’s richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 25. Mike Pegram, owner of Captain Steve, was here on Donn day dressed in shorts and sandals due to his inability to get into his boots after a night of beer and stone crabs, which eggravated his gout.

Magna plans East-West showdown

Gulfstream President Scott Savin has announced a six-race series between Magna’s South Florida and Southern California tracks.

"We will send 36 horses (six per race) to Santa Anita on Big ‘Cap Day (March 3) and they will send 36 horses here on Florida Derby Day (March 10)," Savin said.

Each race will be valued at $100,000 and Magna will provide plane fare, expenses for a groom and a $4,000 appearance fee for each horse.

"We are trying to get a special proposition bet here in Florida where you can pick either the East or West team," Savin said.