We are more than a month into the current Gulfstream Park Championship Meet, which began on Dec. 26, and this seems like a good time to check-in and all of the current jockey, trainer, and post-position trends happening at the meet that can be relevant for bettors.
A great renewal of Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes day is in the rear-view mirror and there are still two full months of action remaining at the meet as the south Florida winter season marches onward toward Curlin Florida Derby day on April 1.
Who is Riding Best?
There was a three-way battle going on atop the jockey standings for much of the Gulfstream winter meet until leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr. blew the doors off the jockey standings with a Gulfstream record-tying seven-win day on Feb. 3. Even before that day for the ages, Irad Ortiz had already taken over a firm hold on the top spot with 39 wins through Feb. 1. The other two jockeys that were vying for the riding title are Luis Saez with 33 wins, and Jose Ortiz with 29 wins through Feb. 1. All three of these riders have been consistent on each of Gulfstream’s turf, dirt, and Tapeta surfaces. The trio gets the most mounts and wins the most races, but beyond just that, they also lead in win percentage with Irad Ortiz topping the bunch at 22%. Saez is sitting at 20% winners through Feb. 1 with Jose Ortiz riding at 16%.
For bettors, Irad Ortiz has the lowest average win payoff at just $7.70. Saez offers the most value with his average win payoff reaching a very solid $10.90, and Jose Ortiz’s average winner is paying an even $10. While Saez and Irad Ortiz tend to do roughly as good at all distances and surfaces, Jose Ortiz has definitely been a better bet in routes. He has 19 wins and a 21% win percentage in routes versus only 10 wins for 11% in sprints.
The only other riders in the win-percentage ballpark with the top three all have far fewer mounts. Fourth leading rider Tyler Gaffalione (21 wins) has a solid 14% win percentage. Fifth-leading rider Miguel Angel Vasquez (16 wins) has been a very good bet with a 15% win percentage. Most of the other regular top riders have win percentages in the 10-13% range. Jockey Junior Alvarado, buoyed by a big Pegasus World Cup day, has 12 wins for a 13% clip. Who is the disappointment in the jock’s room so far? It has been Paco Lopez, who is ninth in the standings through Feb. 1 with a record of just 10-for-93 (11%).
The meet’s clear best dirt rider from a wins and percentage standpoint is Luis Saez with 15 wins for 29%.
Irad Ortiz leads all jockeys by a wide margin in turf races with 18 wins for 25%.
Irad Ortiz, Jose Ortiz, and Saez are tied for the lead in Tapeta races at the meet with nine. From that trio, Saez has the best win percentage at 22%. Other Tapeta win-percentage leaders include Gaffalione, who is winning at 23% on the synthetic, and Sonny Leon who is at 22%. Paco Lopez is 5-for-25 on the Tapeta for 20%.
If you are looking for the best longshot rider at the meet through Feb. 1, it is Leonel Reyes, who is seventh in the overall standings with 10 wins. Those winners have paid a lofty average price of $31.20 for bettors.
Top Gulfstream Trainers
In the trainer’s standings, the runaway leader in terms of wins is Saffie Joseph Jr. with 17 winners (18%) through Feb. 1. Joseph’s average winner has paid $8.90, which is very low but still much higher than Chad Brown, whose three winners so far have averaged just $4.70. Todd Pletcher, perennially Gulfstream’s leading winter trainer until Joseph emerged a couple years ago, was second in the standings through Feb. 1 with 14 wins (19%). Mark Casse is third with 9 wins (16%).
Casse has been kind to bettors because his average winner has paid a healthy $14.60. Even Pletcher’s winners have been paying off much better than expected at an average of $9.20. The other leader in average win payoff amongst the top trainers is Antonio Sano, whose winners are paying an average of $14.10.
The hot Gulfstream trainers to bet in terms of the top win percentages at the meet include Carlos David (7-for-26, 27%). Christophe Clement (5-for-16, 31%), and Brian Lynch (6-for-18, 33%).
Pletcher is the meet’s leading trainer in terms of dirt winners with eight. Pletcher (33%) and Bill Mott lead in main-track win percentage at 31% through Feb. 1.
Joseph leads the meet in number of turf winners with nine. The other best bets on the grass have been Lynch and Clement. All six of Lynch’s winners have been on the grass (46%), and Clement had four winners on the grass from just his first 10 starters.
Jose Francisco D’Angelo is the leading trainer on Tapeta in terms of wins with seven. The other standout story on the Tapeta for bettors has been Carlos David, who has won with 5 of 8 Tapeta starters for a huge 63%.
Finally, for those who pay attention to post-position trends, some advantages and disadvantages have emerged through Feb. 1.
In dirt sprints at less than a mile, the inside four posts have produced by far the most winners and best win percentages, with the standout posts being post 2 (23%) and post 3 (24%). Dirt routes at Gulfstream have long favored horses from inside posts, and that is again the case with horses from posts 1-4 far outperforming the rest. Horses breaking outside post 7 in dirt races at a mile and longer are 1-for-24 so far.
Tapeta races have played fair to all posts so far in both routes and sprints.
Gulfstream turf routes are fair to all of the various post positions, and long-term stats point out Gulfstream’s turf course as giving outside drawn horses the best chance with the least disadvantage when compared with other tracks. The five-furlong turf sprints have also played fairly in terms of post position. The bias in those races has always been in terms of running style instead of post position. Front-runners and early speed horses are preferred in Gulfstream five-furlong turf sprints.
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