By Jim Freer
On Saturday, Gulfstream Park held the national Claiming Crown race day that included nine stakes races restricted to horses that have raced at least once at or below a designated claiming price.
Here are highlights. We will have more details later on Sunday.
*Jesus' Team, the 2-5 favorite, beat 13-1 shot Storm Runner by three-quarters of a length in the featured $150,000 Jewel, at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds and up.
Trainer Jose D'Angelo said he expects that Jesus' Team (pronounced hay-SOOS) will race next in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Grade 1) at 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Gulfstream on Jan. 23.
Luis Saez rode Jesus' Team and five other winners on the 11-race card.
*Even without spectators at Gulfstream and thus with no betting on-track, all-sources handle for the day was $14.6 million.
That was a record in the 22-year history of the Claiming Crown, which has been held at Gulfstream the past nine years.
The previous record was $13.9 million on the 2019 Claiming Crown, on Saturday Dec. 7. That was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and
Gulfstream was able to have spectators and on-track betting.
Last year and this year, there were eleven Claiming Crown races with Fast and Firm conditions.
For both days, Gulfstream did not provide breakdowns of how much betting was done via Advance Deposit Wagering (ADWs) and how much was done at simulcast locations, such as racetracks and OTB offices.
Data from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering show that on-site wagering on Gulfstream races has been falling for several years, and was about 6 percent of that track's All-Sources handle in 2019. That mirrors handle trends at many U.S. thoroughbred tracks.
Meanwhile, several industry studies show that ADWs now make up approximately 65 percent of betting at U.S. thoroughbred tracks.
In upcoming days we will have stories about those betting trends, particularly at Gulfstream and at Tampa Bay Downs.