Today is a special day for horse racing fans, as the boutique meets on the East and West coasts are running on the same day for the first time this year.
There will be at least eight combined hours of quality racing at Saratoga and Del Mar on most days through Labor Day. Downloading the past performances each day is like opening a gift.
For contest players, it’s a grind through the winter months. Sure, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita offer many full fields, but contest players that follow New York year-round aren’t fulfilled by Aqueduct’s inner track meet.
Keeneland lifts our spirits for a bit in April, but it’s gone in a flash, while other major tracks are in transition periods.
So beyond the “turf meeting the surf” at Del Mar and the unique setting of horses walking through the crowd on the way to the paddock at Saratoga, we as contest players are treated to a unique dynamic for the next six weeks.
Owners and trainers want to win badly at these meets, which creates the most competitive racing scenarios for contest players to handicap.
Like any other track, favorites can run in bunches, but the scope of handicapping most races at these meets will be broader with fewer throw-outs.
Some of us are often shocked to see that the 18-1 shot we got home in a contest was also picked by 18 other players out of 96 players in a tournament.
More parity exists at Saratoga in my opinion because there are more “live” longshots. Even if they aren’t winning, their form indicates a capability which divides more final selections in contest races.
I also believe Del Mar and Saratoga running on the same days with the exception of Mondays, allows contest players to consistently follow two tracks since each of the premier meets are mainstays on most tournament sites.
During the winter, spring, and early summer, contest players often don’t know which tracks are going to be included in the big games from week to week. Finally, as the racing gets better, so do the contests.
Tournament sites know that Del Mar and Saratoga have great appeal so more alternative high stakes games are offered because they are more likely to fill.
It’s truly a win-win for contest players. That’s not to take anything way from a lot of other great meets across the country, but the combination of Del Mar and Saratoga is unmatched.