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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at 2:31 PM

On this sight I will be posting my GULFSTREAM REPORT on Wednesday each week throughout the Championship Meet. I will take a look at various aspects that a bettor should consider (today we take a look at 5 furlong sprints and betting jockeys) plus each week will have a Horses To Watch List.

Make sure to check in weekly.

(FIVE FURLONG TURF SPRINTS ARE PRETTY MUCH WHAT THE BETTOR EXPECTS)

There is no doubt that for most bettors the first glance at the past performances of a 5 furlong turf sprint is one which searches for the front end or pressing and-or stalking speed.

At Gulfstream this would appear to be the proper approach.

For instance, over the course of the last 6 racing days (12/21 – 12/26) there have been 11 five furlong turf races. Only one of those races has seen the winner come from further off the pace than 3.5 lengths at first call and 3.5 lengths at second call. 8 of them have been from 2.5 lengths back or less at first and second call and a pair have been wire-to-wire winners.

When there is such a consistent form pool to draw from it usually shortens the contender list for a bettor. The problem is, it also shortens the payoff.

Those 11 races have yielded an average payoff of only $9.25 (measured against an overall meet payoff of just about $16.00) despite an average field size of 9.2 runners.

This is why I do these numbers. There are many opportunities at Gulfstream Park. But there are also certain scenarios which you might wish to keep at the bottom of the Value List.

(ARE YOU ONE WHO OVERPLAYS JOCKEYS?)

One of the key elements of the high level Gulfstream Championship Meet from now through the Grade I Florida Derby on March 31 is that many of the top jockeys in the nation will be here on a regular basis.

Javier Castellano, John Velazquez and Luis Saez are already here. Many others will soon relocate. This means that the public will soon be drawn, as they always are, a bit too heavily on these big name riders as their default positions.

If you have read my views on these pages over any length of time, you know that betting jockeys is the least productive handicapping angle you can pursue.

You don’t need to take my word for it, the numbers bear this out.

A dead flat bet on any rider will with rare exceptions (see that in a minute) will always produce a negative R.O.I. And with the visibility that the top riders in the country carry, the tendency is just about always deflationary and not inflationary.

By all means, if you are convinced of the numerous merits of a certain horse, even if you know that a high profile jockey is riding, you take the generally accepted 40 to 60 cent lesser payoff and go forward. But never, never, never simply bet a horse because of the jockey.

Now, as to the point of the R.O.I. regarding jockeys.

In a recent posting on BRIS by Ed DeRosa the following was noted. Through December 18, 79 jockeys have ridden in at least 750 races this year, and only 3—Rafael Hernandez, Tommy Pompell, and Mychel Sanchez—sport a positive ROI from all starters.

Pompell’s, 99 winners brought up mutuel payoffs of $1,675.40 for an 8.93% ROI on 769 starters. This is slightly better than Sanchez’s 116/770 mark with a 5.06% ROI and significantly better than Hernandez’s 0.31% ROI on 163 wins from 927 starts.

You will notice there are no Castellano’s, Velazquez’s, Saez’s or Ortiz brothers in the noting. Again, this is understandable given how much money bettors over-extend in wagering on big name jockeys.

Now, if you are the type of bettor who can restrict their self to “only” betting jockeys under a prescribed standard, not all is lost. For when it comes to “the chalk” you might turn a small profit.

There have been 126 jockeys so far this year with at least 100 mounts on a favorite, and only two—Contreras and Dean Sarvis—have a positive ROI with Contreras going 102-for-238 with a +10.6% mark on the chalk.

When it comes to odds on chalk the complexion changes a bit with 154 jockeys having at least 25 starts on an odds-on favorite, and 15 of them sporting a positive ROI, including Patrick Husbands (22/33 +11.5%), Joel Rosario (19/29 +11.0%), and Jomar Torres (24/34 +10.2%). Though not positive, Ramon Vazquez merits mention here for having 130 odds-on mounts and netting a -3.4% ROI from 81 wins—that’s much the best among the 15 jockeys with at least 75 mounts in this category.

But, if you are looking to hold out for this “chalk” scenario, keep in mind that the only jockey you are might see on a regular basis at Gulfstream is Joel Rosario.

(GULFSTREAM HORSES TO WATCH)

(The horses listed below ran at Gulfstream between 12/21 and 12/26 and should be followed as described in the notes. Play them back at least twice or until they win.)

AFTER RHYTHM – Jason Servis trained juvenile filly debuted in 50K maiden claimer at difficult 7 furlong distance and ran a strong second behind runaway 4-5 drop down winner. She started slowly, gathered momentum on the turn and began to figure it out in the lane. Won’t be a maiden much longer.

AWESOME THOUGHT – The CD shipper went right out to fight for the lead in open 25K mile claimer, took the lead on the turn, fought off another challenger, continued to contend through the lane and was nipped at the wire while clear of the show horse. The gelding was haltered by Jorge Navarro and should return immediate dividends under the same conditions.

EMPIRE POWER – Antonio Sano trained juvenile colt was all heart in entry level allowance/optional 75K claimer when he gave the winning 2-5 favorite everything he had. From the gate to upper stretch in the 6 furlong dash he fought off one rival and dug in vs the winner. Both went head to head through the lane before Empire Power dropped a ½ length decision while 6 ½ lengths clear of the show runner and finished in 1:10 1/5. Beats the level next time.     

MARYLAND PRIDE – In 7 ½ furlong 30K turf claimer and first start since 10/6 at Laurel the Horacio Paz 3-year old pressed the pace to the far turn, put away challengers for the lead at the quarter pole and held gamely for the place when just passed by the winner. Wins one of these soon.

MITCHELL ROAD – Trainer Bill Mott seldom has them fully cranked for the debut so the effort from this debuting juvenile filly in 1 1/6th mile turf MSW was more than promising. Went right to the lead, set the pace, shook away from main contender, battled to hold the lead and just succumbed late while finishing second while 2 lengths clear of the show filly. Graduates next time.     

QUALITY TIME – In first start since October the 4-year old filly raced four wide early in the entry level allowance/optional claimer, dropped in near the quarter pole, moved out again in deep stretch and gained ground late in the 5 furlong test. Needed the race. Clean trip and maybe more ground gets it done in next. ,

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