Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Fair Grounds Have an Exciting Lineup of Races Ahead

Over the next couple of weeks, racetracks including Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and Fair Grounds offer an exciting lineup of races. Plus, March Madness is just around the corner. Dave Bontempo has a rundown.

Life by the numbers.

Gulfstream Park offers a Rainbow Pick 6 Carryover of nearly $1.4 million entering the March 13 race week. As the last couple weeks of the championship season dawns, along with the Florida Derby on March 30, look for heavy action and handsome payouts here.

Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, commands the racing world March 16 with the $1 million Rebel Stakes. It is one of the track’s three major days of the year, and it will add the $350,000 Azeri and $300,00 Essex races. The Rebel, along with the April 14 Arkansas Derby, brings Kentucky Derby-style attention to Oaklawn.

And this year, the spotlight grows. Hall of Fame racehorse trainer Bob Baffert will bring two highly heralded prospects, Game Winner and Improbable, to the Rebel Stakes. They were scheduled to run in the San Felipe at Santa Anita in California, but racing has been suspended there because of poor track conditions, following the death of 21 horses there since December, reportedly caused by an uneven training surface. The track is scheduled to stay dark until at least the weekend of March 22.

In the interim, California horses are shipping to the Midwest and East.

Baffert has won more Rebel Stakes, at six, than any trainer. Magnum Moon won it and the Arkansas Derby last year and wound up in the Kentucky Derby. American Pharoah won the race, the Arkansas Derby and the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes) in 2015.

On March 23, Fair Grounds in New Orleans corners the racing stage with the Louisiana Derby worth $1 million, along with the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial. One day later, rising Sunland Park in New Mexico displays the $800,000 Sunland Derby, the $200,000 Park Oaks and five more races of $100,000.

See what a casino does for a racetrack? Makes you a player.


March Madness Is Just Around the Corner

Yes, it’s here already. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins with a First Four matchup March 19-20, the full-tournament starts March 21 and the Final Four April 6-8.

There’s usually a notable upset in the opening two rounds, so here are some stats to ponder:

  • No. 1 seeds are 135-1 all-time against the No. 16, but that one came last year when the University Maryland Baltimore County clubbed top-seeded Virginia by 20 points.
  • Otherwise, the two seeds have a 94 percent winning history against the No. 15.
  • The three seed is 84.5 percent against No. 14
  • The four seed has a 79.5 percent success against the 13th.
  • The best upsets are likely in five versus 12, where the underdog has won 35 percent of the time.

First rounds are often cakewalks for the elite teams. Second-round play will have some “upsets” that aren’t major because by then we’re down to the final 32 teams in the country, so watch for some sharp line movements. Over the last three years the eventual national champions are a combined 18-0 against the spread in the NCAA Tournament and 26-4 in the last five years.

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