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Jan 07, 2011

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            Gulfstream Park opened their doors this week and they have gotten off to a nice start from a weather and betting standpoint. Big fields, turf racing and some new wagers at lower minimums should make this a very exciting meeting. The bigger the fields, the larger the handle and the better possibility of getting a nice priced mutuel. Gulfstream offers two pick fours on their card and now they also offer a pick 5. Both of these wagers are a minimum bet of 50 cents. The opening day pool in the pick 5 was a very nice $55,229 considering it was the first day and the racing form didn’t list it as a 50 cent bet for that day.

            The pick 5 wasn’t a hit on opening day and there was a carryover of more than $35,000 heading into day two. The pool on day 2 was $123,889, obviously helped by the carryover but the bettors know the bet is there and the 50 cent minimum really allows you to have a shot into a big pool. The pick 5 on day two paid $22,832 for 50 cents.

            The opening day stakes race was the Old Hat Stakes, a Grade III for three year old fillies with a $100,000 purse run over six furlongs. That race went to FINAL MESA, a Wesley Ward trainee that now has four wins from five starts. That was the second win for Ward on the card as well as the second for jockey Joel Rosario who flew in from California (dark day) to ride FINAL MESA, a horse he rode back in August at Del Mar. This three year old filly should be a force here this winter along with the Wesley Ward barn.

            On Friday January 14th, Oaklawn Park will open its doors for the 2011 meeting which runs through April 16th. Oaklawn has been a popular destination for three year olds that are heading to the Kentucky Derby. SMARTY JONES and AFLEET ALEX are just a few of the big name three year olds that have raced here in the past before heading on to bigger and better things. ZENYATTA made her second appearance here last year when she easily won her second Apple Blossom back in April. Expect to see more of the big name runners this year at Oaklawn and expect to see a solid three year old stakes program culminating with Arkansas Derby.

            If you are going to the windows to play Oaklawn lets take a look the jockey and trainer standings from last year. The leading jockey was Terry Thompson who had 59 winners from 319 mounts. He was 10 in front of Corey Nakatani and 14 in front of Calvin Borel. He is going to be tough to beat again this meeting but as always the meeting is open from a jockey standpoint. Last year’s leading trainer was Steve Asmussen who had 48 winners from 205 starters. His win total was double of the second place finishers, D. Wayne Lukas and Mclean Robertson both of whom had 24 wins. Ron Moquett had 23 wins to finish fourth. One trainer to look for that doesn’t start as many horses is W. Bret Calhoun, who had a breakout year in 2010 winning two Breeders’ Cup races. He had 16 wins from 62 starters for a 26% winning percentage and a 60% in the money winning percentage. For more insight into the Oaklawn meet make sure to order a copy of the February issue of American Turf Monthly with the Oaklawn preview. Call 800-645-2240 or visit us on the web at to place your order.

            On a sad note, former editor of American Turf Monthly, Howard Rowe passed away on January 5th at age 97 of natural causes. He is survived by a daughter, Lorraine Queeney of Huntsville, AL, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The body will be cremated and no funeral service is planned. It is requested by the family that donations in memory of Howard A. Rowe be made to the Belmont Park Backstretch Assistance Fund. I got to know Howard in my fourteen years of working at American Turf Monthly and it was privilege to know him.



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