Playing All Weather and Synthetic Tracks

From strictly a wagering standpoint, I have never been a fan of synthetic racetracks. When Keeneland and California tracks featured them, I avoided them when I could and dealt with them on big days that I wanted to wager on. I can’t pinpoint why I never warmed up to them. Perhaps it is just that they are something new and different and add an extra challenge to an already challenging puzzle.

Some say they are safer for the horses. If that is indeed true, I’m all in. Others say they cause different types of injuries, and the additional safety factor is a myth. I don’t know the true answer and have read and seen documentation over the years that support both opinions. Maybe they have not been used enough to be certain?

The Gulfstream Park Championship meet opens this week in Florida. This has always been a popular meet and will feature some big day cards including the Pegasus, Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and others. We will also have a few Rainbow 6 mandatory payout days and we know how those pools escalate. This year will be the first we will have to deal with a synthetic track in addition to the main dirt track and turf course.

It made sense for Gulfstream to install a synthetic track. They practically race year round and the turf took a beating. You can’t use a turf course year round and keep it tip top.

From the look of the first few cards at he Championship meet the synthetic or all weather track as it is called will be in play regularly. I assume it will be used for all off the turf races and the scratches go to the post time favorite rule is also in play. We should all confirm that, but it is a retry safe bet that’s how it will go. I’m sure Gulfstream is expecting less scratches when races do come off the grass as grass horses tend to take to all weather tracks.

However, you may feel about the all weather tracks, if you plan on playing the Gulfstream Championship meet you’ll have to deal with it. Often it seems.

Wagering on all weather synthetic tracks

 At the end of the day horse racing is horse racing and will always be a challenging and tough game. Of late we who enjoy playing the game have had to learn to deal with horses coming off and going back on Lasix. An extra hurdle in an already difficult scenario. Now, at lest for certain meets we will have to deal with all weather.

I plan not to overthink it. We’ll see the Woodbine shippers and other horses who have synthetic experience and that will give us immediate insight into how they will likely handle Gulfstream. That’s hopefully an easy one.

We know turf horses seem to handle it so that is something else to look for. Turf horses handle the main track at Churchill Downs well, so I will be looking at Churchill shippers or horses who have run well there closely going over the Gulfstream all weather track.

The first few weeks I’ll watch the all weather races closely and take a lot of notes on my observations. Which barns are doing well? Are any trainers or riders excelling over it? What are the key tracks horses are coming in from that are doing well?  Is there a bias and where do the winners come from?  Are any types of runners moving up or down performance wise with any regularity? Are speed horses more reliable than closers or stalkers? Only time will tell the answers to these questions and once we have them, we can factor them into our wagering decisions.

I won’t only pay close attention to the general results and how the all weather races are playing, I’ll pay close attention to my personal results on the all weather races. Going back and seeing how you did and what you hit and missed on will be a big tell.

Of course, all the other usual factors like pace, post, class, patterns etc will be in play. That doesn’t and shouldn’t change. You have to do your homework and be prepared.

It’s a new element for sure but that’s really all it is. Those of us who do this regularly should be used to that by now. We’ll have a bit of a adjustment curve going in, but it should level out quickly. Let’s hope so anyway!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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