This week in horse racing: Saratoga back in spotlight

By Jeremy Plonk  ( 

July 12, 2022 02:21 PM

More than $65 million was bet last summer on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the prestigious Saratoga racing meet in upstate New York. Expect that interest to return this weekend as the Spa unveils its annual stand that runs through Labor Day. America’s top horses, jockeys and trainers converge in what is the sport’s best seasonal attraction. Fresh-faced 2-year-olds are in the spotlight to kick off the meet, as well as the Grade 1 Diana Stakes on Saturday for the best of the filly and mare turf division — one dominated by Chad Brown, the leading trainer recently at Belmont Park.  

For those betting the opening weekend cards at Saratoga, the Betmix database offers several handicapping pointers for stakes races at the big meeting based on the past five years. 

Key Saratoga Stakes Stats 

Percentage of winning stakes favorites: 38.5% 

Average stakes win odds: 4.6-1 

Key Saratoga stakes trainers: Chad Brown (21%), Steve Asmussen (21%), Jeremiah Englehart (21%), Brad Cox (19%) 

Key Saratoga stakes jockeys: Mike Smith (40%), Joel Rosario (20%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (19%), Junior Alvarado (18%), Luis Saez (17%), Javier Castellano (16%) 

What to Watch for This Week 

Top sprinters clash in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Saturday at Laurel, a race that returns to its original roots with a summer calendar placement. It’s one of four stakes on the big card in Maryland … With Del Mar’s opening a week away, there’s no live racing in Southern California. The Golden State’s only thoroughbred action will be the Sacramento Fair … With top Kentucky jockeys off to Saratoga, and Florent Geroux announcing he’s going to give Del Mar a spin this summer, look for Gerardo Corrales to ascend at Ellis Park. He’s off to a hot start with three winners there during opening week … Canterbury Park in Minnesota has a quartet of stakes races Saturday night for the state-bred set. 

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

Weekend momentum at Saratoga begins for us in Race 8 on the Friday card, the $150,000 Coronation Cup. That’s where reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Twilight Gleaming looks to continue her winning ways. Her trainer, Wesley Ward, has more turf sprint wins at Saratoga (seven) than anyone over the past five summers (no other barn has more than three). Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. also leads the local riders in turf sprint victories over that timeframe with seven. Look to the exacta with Lady Scarlet, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who has been the Spa’s top turf sprint rider in terms of ROI and win percentage the past five summers. 

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week 

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage: 

— Parx Racing: 55%

— Monmouth Park: 44% 

— Assiniboia Downs: 43% 

— Canterbury Park: 42% 

— Evangeline Downs: 42% 

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.) 

— Delaware Park: 55% 

— Los Alamitos: 53% 

— Mountaineer: 50% 

— Fort Erie: 50% 

— Woodbine: 49% 

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher) 

— Belmont: 6 

— Woodbine: 6  

— Prairie Meadows: 6 

— Ellis Park: 5 

— Lone Star: 5 

— Los Alamitos: 5  

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Luis Perez (7-14, 50%), Finger Lakes 

— Carlos Lozada (7-16, 44%), Louisiana Downs 

— Frankie Pennington (6-14, 43%), Parx, Monmouth 

— Kevin Roman (6-14, 43%), Prairie Meadows 

— Paco Lopez (12-29, 41%), Monmouth, Parx 

America’s Hot Trainers Last Week 

— Kieron Magee (6-10, 60%), Laurel, Delaware, Charles Town 

— Kelly Breen (6-11, 55%), Monmouth, Belmont, Delaware 

— Jamie Ness (15-37, 41%), Parx, Laurel, Delaware, Penn National 

— Doug O’Neill (6-17, 35%), Los Alamitos, Pleasanton, Indianapolis 

— Steve Asmussen (17-52, 33%), seven different tracks

Free $100,000 in Play Throughout July 

Xpressbet and 1/ST BET players can take advantage of $100,000 in additional hit-and-split payoffs when they bet some of the country’s most important wagers throughout the month of July. Pick 4s, Pick 5s and more at America’s top tracks are part of the hit-and-splits. When you win, collect the parimutuel payoff as well as your share of each wager’s hit-and-split total. It’s free money adding extra to select payoffs. 

Statistics courtesy of

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