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Gulfstream Park 2012/2013 Meet Preview - Part I

A preview of the upcoming Gulfstream Park meeting, including the opening day Claiming Crown card.

Note: This post ended up being a whole lot longer than I anticipated so I'm breaking it up into two parts. Part II will be along this afternoon.

Saturday marks the start of the 2012/2013 Gulfstream meet in the official start to the winter racing season (at least for me). This is the earliest beginning to a Gulfstream meet in quite some time following a minor reshuffling of racing dates in Florida. Tampa Bay Downs will also begin their 2012/2013 meet on Saturday afternoon.

Gulfstream will run Wednesday through Sunday (dark Monday and Tuesday) with special days on January 1st, January 21st and February 18th. First post is 12:45pm Eastern (9:45am Pacific).

Gulfstream offers the usual smorgasbord of wagering options including:

  • $1 Super HI-5 (offered once daily), $0.10 Superfectas, $0.10 Rainbow Pick 6, $0.50 Trifectas, and $0.50 Pick 4s and Pick 5s.
  • Daily Doubles and Exactas are a $1 minimum bet.
  • Doubles and Pick 3s roll throughout the race day.
  • The Pick 5 features a 15% takeout.
  • The Rainbow Pick 6 must be hit to a single unique ticket in order to avoid a carryover.

Personally, I love the Gulfstream meet as I've found it to regularly challenge my handicapping with cards filled with a wide variety of class and conditions throughout the season. The diverse nature of the horse population provides opportunities for players to focus on specific areas if they so desire. Do you love following up and coming three-year-olds on prepping for the spring Classics? You can find that at Gulfstream. Do you like to play a good number of turf routes includes European horses shipping over to North America for the first time? Check. How about a good selection of allowance and optional claiming races or a strong collection of top class older horses, both routers and sprinters? Check, check and check.

One of the major things I've kept an eye on at Gulfstream the past several years is the temporary rail settings on the turf course. Similar to tracks with large turf course that deploy a movable rail, the Gulfstream grass course becomes very favorable to speed horses the further out from the hedge the rail is set. If you dig through the results charts from a season of turf races, you'll see rail setting from 0 feet all the way out to 108 feet, and a lot of different settings in-between.

In my personal opinion, it seems that speed really starts to have an advantage when the rail is 80 feet or further away from the hedge. When I see a 108 foot setting, I'm looking for speed horses unless the pace is going to be insane and even in those situations I'm more likely to pass than play a deep closer.

There are a couple of different considerations for the rail setting, chief among those the ability to reduce wear and tear on the grass over the course of the season. The other consideration is the distance of the scheduled turf races for the day; the rail setting impacts the position of the starting gate relative to the turns which can impact the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of gate positions.

You're not going to crush every race where the rail is set out at 80 or 100 feet with a front running horse but, if you watch those races fairly closely throughout the meet, you'll find at least several instances where lone speed will go off at ridiculously high odds given the advantages of the rail set-up.

Gulfstream has scheduled a very nice stakes calendar for the meet highlighted by the $1 million Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30th.

Below is the 2012/2013 Gulfstream Park stakes calendar:

Date Track Race Gr. Age Sex Dist. Surf. Purse
1-Dec GP Iron Horse
8.5 Dirt $100,000
1-Dec GP Express
6.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Dec GP Glass Slipper
3up f&m 7.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Dec GP Rapid Transit
7.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Dec GP Tiara
3up f&m 8.5 Turf $125,000
1-Dec GP Emerald
8.5 Turf $125,000
1-Dec GP Jewel
9.0 Dirt $200,000
2-Dec GP Sunshine State
7.0 Dirt $60,000
8-Dec GP Sugar Swirl 3 3up f&m 6.0 Dirt $100,000
9-Dec GP South Beach
3up f&m 7.5 Turf $100,000
15-Dec GP Dania Beach
8.0 Turf $100,000
16-Dec GP Harlan’s Holiday
8.5 Dirt $100,000
22-Dec GP El Prado
8.0 Turf $75,000
29-Dec GP Mr. Prospector 3 3up
6.0 Dirt $100,000
30-Dec GP Ocala FLA 3up f&m 8.0 Dirt $60,000
1-Jan GP Old Hat 3 3yo f 6.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Jan GP Gulfstream Park Derby
8.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Jan GP Spectacular Bid
6.0 Dirt $100,000
1-Jan GP Ginger Brew
3yo f 8.5 Turf $75,000
5-Jan GP Marshua’s River 3 4up f&m 8.5 Turf $100,000
12-Jan GP Fort Lauderdale 3 3up
8.5 Turf $100,000
13-Jan GP Hal’s Hope 3 3up
8.0 Dirt $100,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions Classic
9.0 Dirt $400,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions Distaff
4up f&m 9.0 Dirt $300,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions Turf
9.0 Turf $150,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions F&M Turf
4up f&m 9.0 Turf $150,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions Sprint
6.0 Dirt $150,000
19-Jan GP Sunshine Millions F&M Sprint
4up f&m 6.0 Dirt $150,000
20-Jan GP Kitten’s Joy
8.5 Turf $100,000
26-Jan GP Forward Gal 2 3yo f 7.0 Dirt $200,000
26-Jan GP Holy Bull 3 3yo
8.5 Dirt $400,000
27-Jan GP Sweetest Chant
3yo f 8.0 Turf $100,000
2-Feb GP Hutcheson 2 3yo
7.0 Dirt $150,000
2-Feb GP Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint
5.0 Turf $75,000
9-Feb GP Donn Handicap 1 4up
9.0 Dirt $50,000
9-Feb GP Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap 1 4up
9.0 Turf $300,000
9-Feb GP Gulfstream Park Sprint 2 4up
7.0 Dirt $150,000
9-Feb GP Suwannee River 3 4up f&m 9.0 Turf $150,000
10-Feb GP Hurricane Bertie 3 4up f&m 6.5 Dirt $150,000
16-Feb GP Mac Diarmida 2 4up
11.0 Turf $150,000
16-Feb GP Very One 3 4up f&m 11.0 Turf $100,000
17-Feb GP Sabin 3 4up f&m 8.5 Dirt $100,000
23-Feb GP Fountain of Youth 2 3yo
8.5 Dirt $400,000
23-Feb GP Davona Dale 2 3yo f 8.5 Dirt $250,000
23-Feb GP Canadian Turf 3 4up
8.0 Turf $150,000
24-Feb GP Ladies Turf Sprint
4up f&m 5.0 Turf $60,000
2-Mar GP Swale 3 3yo
7.0 Dirt $150,000
2-Mar GP Herecomesthebride 3 3yo f 9.0 Turf $100,000
3-Mar GP Palm Beach 3 3yo
9.0 Turf $150,000
9-Mar GP Gulfstream Park Handicap 2 4up
8.0 Dirt $300,000
16-Mar GP Honey Fox 3 4up f&m 8.0 Turf $100,000
17-Mar GP Inside Information 2 4up f&m 7.0 Dirt $150,000
23-Mar GP Pan American 2 4up
12.0 Turf $150,000
30-Mar GP Florida Derby 1 3yo
9.0 Dirt $1,000,000
30-Mar GP Gulfstream Park Oaks 2 3yo f 9.0 Dirt $300,000
30-Mar GP Skip Away 3 4up
9.5 Dirt $100,000
30-Mar GP Appleton 3 4up
8.0 Turf $100,000
30-Mar GP Rampart 3 4up f&m 9.0 Dirt $150,000
30-Mar GP Orchid 3 4up f&m 12.0 Turf $150,000
30-Mar GP Sir Shackleton
6.5 Dirt $75,000
6-Apr GP GP Aftercare Stalion Stakes
7.5 Dirt $60,000

Coming Up: Part II - Opening Day Preview