Feb 5 2014

This Horse Has No Chance – Stories from Gulfstream Park

Grey Horse Has No Chance

I just returned from an extended visit to Gulfstream Park in sunny south Florida.  With any trip, there are usually a few stories to tell.  So, here a couple of mine.

I got a late start on my handicapping the morning of January 19, so I arrived at the track just before the 3rd race.  Since I had not ‘capped the 3rd race, I decided to just sit in the paddock area and watch the horses march in.  Directly behind me was standing a young couple.  As the horses began entering from the saddling shed, I overheard the following conversation:

Woman: Who should I bet on?

Man (as he studies the Program intently): I’m looking.

{Silence, as the horses continue to enter the paddock.  Man continues to read the program, and the woman watches the horses … until #8 enters, an attractive grey horse.}

Woman: Oh, oh … I want to bet on #8.

Man: Why?

Woman: Because it’s a pretty grey horse.

Man: Did you look at the odds board?

Woman: No, why?

Man: Because he’s 50-1.

Woman: I don’t care, he’s pretty.

Man: Do you know why he’s 50-1?

Woman: No.

Man: Because he has NO chance.

Woman: Whatever.

At this point the man and woman walked away from where I was sitting.  As they departed, I thought about a story recently told to me about a wife that bet Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby, only to have her husband cancel the ticket because “he had no chance.”  Mine That Bird won at odds of 50-1.

Back to Gulfstream Park.  As the horses were exiting the paddock, I noticed that #9 was also a grey horse.  In fact, he was the only other grey horse in the race.  His odds were 13-1.  I wondered if the woman had seen him, and if she had, did she consider betting a grey horse exacta box?

As the horses walked onto the track, I grabbed a nice spot on the rail near the finish line.  The race was a short 5-furlong turf sprint, over in the blink of an eye.  They broke from the gate, and I could see on the Trakus system that #8 and #9 went straight for the lead, battling noses apart in the early going.  As they turned for home the grey duo remained inseparable, and when they hit the wire I honestly could not tell which horse won.  But, I knew one thing … the winner was going to be a grey horse.  As it turned out #9 won by the slimmest of margins, with #8 second best.  The winner paid $29.80 to win, and the horse that had “no chance” paid $31.60 to place.  The grey horse exacta paid $650.

After the race I looked for the couple, but I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I had a vision in my mind of the man throwing down his program in disgust, as the woman gave him that look  guys know so well.  The one that says “I t-o-l-d you so!”

Speaking of horses that have NO chance.  In more than 30 years of playing the ponies, I had never bet on a horse that was 99-1 on the board.  That is, until December 21, 2013 in the 7th race at Gulfstream Park, another 5-furlong turf sprint race. Below are the PPs for 99-1 Bonnie Breeze, with an added “Horse Note:” I made using DRF Formulator before the race.  There are no prior races listed because she was a First-Time-Starter (FTS).

Bonnie Breeze PPs

The first thing I noticed was the horse was owned, trained, and bred by the same person.  Bryan Baker is someone that I was totally unfamiliar with, so I decided to go panning for gold.  After digging into his record using DRF Formulator, I found that his record in Turf Sprints was a respectable, 24-363.  In my shorthand, that means 24 starts, 3 wins, 6 seconds, and 3 thirds.  Next I looked at his three winners, and found that one of them was a First Time Starter (FTS), just like Bonnie Breeze, and won at odds of 45-1.  I kept digging, and found that this horse was also owned and bred by Bryan … AND, had the exact same sire (Boastful). That was enough for me to add my “Look” tag on the PPs, which reminds me to check out the horse in the paddock.

When she first entered the paddock I wasn’t too impressed, but I kept watching.  Around, and around she went, and with each pass she got lighter on her feet.  She definitely had a little bounce in her step, which I like to see with turf horses.

To be honest, when I looked up at the board, and saw that she was 99-1, some doubt started to creep in.  As I said, I have never bet on a horse that was 99-1 on the board.  And, for all I knew, she could have been 200-1.  Tote boards only show a maximum of 99-1, but the true odds can be more.  I looked back again at the PPs, but I simply could not find any other horse that I liked more, so I decided to make a Win-Place-Show bet on Bonnie Breeze.

She broke from the gate well, was in 4th or 5th place early, never really losing ground.  As she entered the stretch she was in 5th place.  At this point, being such a short race, I really didn’t think she was going to gain on the leaders.  But, all of a sudden the top three horses started to back up.  I couldn’t believe my eyes as she just kept on coming, and when she hit the wire she had passed three of the four horses in front of her and finished 2nd.  It turned out her true odds were actually 127-1.  She paid $85 to Place and $35 to Show.  She was part of an exacta that paid $2,780 and a triple that paid $23,733.  And, believe it or not, the 10-cent Superfecta paid $119,069.

Of course I wish I had had some inkling about identifying the other horses that finished with Bonnie Breeze in the exotics.  If I had, there’s a chance I might still be in sunny south Florida right now!  But I was happy to say that I had cashed a winning ticket on my very first bet on a horse that was 99-1 on the board.  A horse that many people would say; “this horse has no chance.”

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

2 comments on “This Horse Has No Chance – Stories from Gulfstream Park

  1. Congratulations!!! Great Job!

    I too cashed a large WPS wager on my first wager ever at posted odds of 99-1.

    The race was the G2 Louisiana Derby 2012. The track had been favoring speed all day, and Hero of Order was the only horse in the field of 13 that was a confirmed frontrunner. At the time I bet the horse he was 70-1, and by the time he crossed the finish line first, his odds had climbed to 109-1.

    Needless to say, it was a great, and profitable thrill.

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