by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

HANA Exclusive Track Ratings – #4 Gulfstream Park
By Greg Reinhart

Rank: 4

HANAScore: 2.59

Located in Hallandale Beach, Florida, Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino finished in the fourth spot in the Horseplayers Association of North America's annual rankings of racetracks in North America.

Opened in 1939, Gulfstream Park has become one of the most recognized tracks in the world, and holds prestigious events such as the Donn Handicap and the Florida Derby. In 2004, Gulfstream was approved for slots, and the facility underwent significant remodeling, which was completed in 2006. Gulfstream features a one and one-eighth miles natural dirt course and a one mile turf course, and the track hosts racing annually from early January into the middle part of April. Gulfstream Park is also a member of the NTRA's safety and integrity alliance.

Gulfstream Park made a significant leap in the HANA rankings this year, going from 11th in 2009 to the fourth spot this year. One key to Gulfstream's appeal with bettors is its takeout, not the least of which on pick-6's, which is an industry low 15 percent. Combined with a decent pool size for Gulfstream's pick-6, this wager is among the most attractive on the continent. Outside of the 15 percent takeout on pick-6s, Gulfstream has a 17 percent takeout on win, place, and show wagers; a 20 percent takeout on exactas, pick-3s, pick-4s, and daily doubles, and a 25 percent takeout on trifectas and superfectas. Gulfstream also offers a 50-cent pick-4 and a 10-cent superfecta option, and it is regularly part of the Magna 5 pick-5 wager.

All these factors combined to give Gulfstream a takeout score of 2.75 and a grade of B- from HANA, which made Gulfstream one of only 13 tracks to grade out higher than a C when it comes to takeout. This was an improvement over last year when the track was given a takeout score of 2.375 and a grade of C+.

Due to the prestige and purses available at Gulfstream, field size is another key strength of the facility. In 2008 Gulfstream averaged 9.07 runners per field, and during 2009, that average bumped up slightly to 9.15. That compares favorably to the other tracks in HANA's top five and increases the track's appeal when looking for wagering options.

Another big feature of Gulfstream is its pool sizes, which rank amongst the highest in all of horse racing. Gulfstream contested 744 races last year, leading to a total in win, place, and show pool of $173,601,425 and an exotic pool total of $353,362,283. This meant that on a per-race basis, the average available of the entire pools was $707,396 with $233,335 of that in the win, place, and show pools and $474,061 in the exotic pools.

As far as availability to advance deposit wagering services and television/streaming video goes, Gulfstream is covered extensively by HRTV and its signal is under the tracknet umbrella, which scores low. This also means Gulfstream is available through Xpressbet, with streaming video as well. Gulfstream is also a wagering option on both Twinspires and Youbet, with streaming video offered. In Canada, HorsePlayer Interactive offers wagering and streaming video on Gulfstream, and Gulfstream appears frequently on one of HPITV's dedicated channels and its rotating channel.

When all of these factors were added by and calculated by the Horseplayers Association of North America's formula, Gulfstream received an overall score of 2.59 and an overall grade of B-. For comparison's sake, last year when Gulfstream ranked 11th, they received an overall score of 2.21 and a grade of C+.

To conclude, Gulfstream is clearly an attractive track to wager on, and that's why it received such a high score to place fourth in HANA's annual rankings. The best wagering feature is the pick-6 with the ultra-low 15 percent takeout. Gulfstream's field size and pool size is another its many strong features. The tracks' main drawback is its signal fee and distribution, being under the restrictive Tracknet umbrella..

For a summary of the methodology used to calculate the HANA Score, please click here.

If you would like to join us at HANA and be a part of next year's ratings where you can give your opinions on your favorite tracks, you can for free, right here.

  • The tracks’ main drawback is its signal fee and distribution, being under the protected Magna umbrella. quote;

    Ray, why would the above be a “drawback” for Magna?

    On the pick 6 takeout, that smells to high heaven to me. First off, when the carryovers accumulate with the help of larger fields and lousy conditions it’s gravy for the whales because that’s when they jump in for the kill. They are unlikely to go after those smaller handles prior to huge carryovers and they haven’t contributed to takeout early on with those carryovers. When those whales get double digit rebates win or lose with just a 16% takeout and us poor slobs get peanuts, well you get the picture. This isn’t the pari-mutual system that I’ve been accustomed to, there’s nothing “mutual” about it and I think if fly’s in the face of what the Federal pari-mutual laws intended.

  • Theresia

    Someone is actually complaining about that takeout on the Pick 6 is too low? If so there is always the NYRA Pick 6 which includes a takeout hike from 16% to 26% on carryover days.

  • Theresia; If your referring to me, my post had nothing to do with “complaining about a low pick 6 takeout”. Read it again if you can.

  • Vernon, do you have any evidence that it is whales who clean up on the Pick 6. To me a whale is someone who bets a lot on a lot of races. Some define whales as those who bet $5 million or more a year, some say $20 million and some ways $50 million.

    The big Pick 6 pools have attracted big bank roll players and partnerships, but not necessarily whales.

    I’ve read many an article on Pick 6 winners. You get the Steven Crists, and you also get the dudes who spend $24. Crist does mention in his book on Exotics that if you are going to play the Pick 6, it is best to wait until there is a substantial carryover, and secondly, you are at a serious disadvantage if you don’t play at least a couple of hundred combos.

    It is a specialty bet, but not necessarily a bet for whales, who generally look for value in individual races.

  • Evidence? Common sense tells me that anyone with a big bankroll isn’t going to put in thousands of dollars to takedown a small handle in the pick 6, regardless of what the takeout is. The very fact those whales get double digit rebates makes it easy to conclude they pay a hell of lot less in takeout than the average player. Think about it, 16% in takeout less the rebates. The big carryovers is what the tracks want (handle) including the whales so the tracks pad the conditions to bring them about. The pick 6 is one pool and I’ve seen sixteen million and more bet on big carryovers. You sure as heck can’t tell me that the better percentage of that handle is the average player. They are just get sucked in prior to those early carryovers. Like I said, whales won’t go all out for small handles in the pick 6, I wouldn’t if I were them and I consider myself to be a gambler. I’m all for that 16% takeout for ALL PLAYERS!

  • Vernon, I don’t think you understood my comment.
    Small players have a smaller shot of hitting the thing regardless, whether whales existed or not.
    It isn’t suggested that small players even participate in these pools.
    As for rebates, when you look at the probability of hitting a pick 6, rebates aren’t a major consideration. When the pools build up like that, it is common sense that you are betting into a positive takeout situation, but you need to invest a lot to have a reasonable chance of hitting.
    And again, there are quite a few bigger players and partnerships that lose lots of money in pursuit of the pick 6’s, and I wouldn’t consider these people to be whales.
    Why anyone would contribute to build up a pick 6 is a mystery to me, but then again, it is a mystery to me why people bet into a pool that has a 25% takeout with a big percentage of their bankroll consistently.

    And I’m asking for evidence that whales are the ones who hit these things. And while I’m at it, I wouldn’t mind your definition of a whale.

  • Richard

    Regarding the signal fee/distribution issue: The Gulfstream signal along with the other Magna tracks, the CDI tracks and others are marketed by TrackNet which is controlled by CDI and Magna. This combination of tracks gives TrackNet a lot of clout and, in essence, makes them the price leader for signal fees in the industry. Where signal distribution is concerned, they are the Whale.

    The TrackNet approach is driven by the monopoly mentality that the horse racing industry just can’t seem to escape. High signal rates help to keep takeout high and especially hurts independent ADW outfits whose only source of income is revenue derived from its customers’ betting handle. In addition, TrackNet intereferes with the market place by placing limits on the rebates that independent ADW’s can pay as a condition for getting the TrackNet-controlled signals. Nothing positive accrues to horseplayers by way of TrackNet.

  • It’s very simple to me why whales put big money into huge carryovers and not the average players. Conditions, Conditions, large fields, lousy conditions mean small players can’t compete because they can’t afford to go as deep as the whales can to cover all the possibilities to have a reasonable chance to take down the pick 6. That’s not hard to understand plus the whales get another big edge with their wagering by getting much better rebates than the average player. Those rebates are a form of “lower takeout”. When a whale bets $10,000.00 he’ll get back anywhere from $1,000.00 or more on winning and losing tickets, whereas the average players squat in manor of speaking.

    There’s no mystery why players play the pick 6, all players like to have a “fair shot” of hitting a big payoff but the smart players will not play into those lousy conditions unless like I said, they have the advantage by virtue of their bankroll, and the edge rebates create. I call it skimming the mutual when comes to rebates.

    Everyone complains about how high takeout is but they condone the much lower takeout the high rollers get. That’s don’t make sense to me. Then to top it off they say lower takeout will no doubt increase handle. ????? Explain that!

  • Vernon, you failed to answer my questions. What exactly is a whale, how do you define them? And what evidence do you have that it is whales who are betting thousands into the pools, and winning these pools?

    Your common sense aside:) My common sense says that most whales as I define them (those who bet more than $10 million a year), would be looking at individual value plays over Pick 6’s where you could easily go a long time without hitting a big one no matter how much you bet and no matter how much the rebate. I could be wrong. But I’d like some proof either way.

    And again, Pick 6’s should be avoided by small players. They would be at a disadvantage even without those who get rebates. Big syndicates will wind up taking most of their money most of the time, because you need to go deep in these pools rebates or not.

  • dcyld324

    i never like Gulfstream park because i can never watch it live on tvg thank you magna i can not see why people say just because the florida derbyhad produce more derby winners than the tampa bay derby that this years tampa bay derby field was so much better this year than this years floriada derby. the i thought that gulfstream was very over rated just because the best trainers from other tracks come to spend the winter there i don’t think this makes gulfstream a a top 5 track in my book.

    1. meydan
    2. santa anita
    3. del mar
    4. saratoga
    5. golden gate fields

  • Maury; Why would I “put my common sense aside”. I’m not going to be drawn into blather that has nothing to do with the unfairness of the current rebate system. It’s very clear to me, high rollers are getting a much better deal than the average players when it comes to takeout. No, I don’t have access to their betting records and I don’t need them to come to the conclusions, my “common sense” tells me. Your saying small players shouldn’t play the pick 6, well I don’t agree, many good handicappers, “small players” were at one time able to take down a big score in the pick 6 prior to tracks padding the conditions. Track offered the pick 6 because they knew that the betting public wanted a chance for that big payoff and it would draw in more handle and fans, not just to cater to the whales. I’ve been in this game to long to see it any other way.

  • This is my last word on this topic Vernon. The reason these pools get so big is because of people putting together big tickets (and most of these people lose). It isn’t being built up by lottery players or good handicappers betting $20.
    The big ticket syndicate players have been around long before anyone heard the word rebate.

  • Who’s talking about betting $20, I’m talking about those that used to put a lot more than that into the pick 6 and there’s an awful lot of us but there is limits that the high rollers are not tied down to, especially when they get a nice kick backs with rebates. I’ll also close with this, I can look at the pick 6 conditions and conclude there’s no shot unless I risk a few grand and still not come close to having the edge I would with better conditions.

  • Clem Clemson

    DCyld324 – I agree with you that Santa Anita and Del Mar are both top 5 tracks….but Golden Gate?? Really? Its cold and windy there. There track changes depending on the tide. The people are usually grumpy. The outdoor paddock is serviceable but nothing great. The view is of HIghway 80 and Emeryville. Most race cards struggle to get 7 horses in a race. Russell Baze and Jerry Hollendorfer skew all the odds.The backside is a disaster and should be torn down and rebuilt. But Thank God its still there as opposed to poor Bay Meadows reduced to rubble by the same greedy morons who own Hollywood. GGF is definitely a B- track. But thats okay.



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