While there is certainly a lot of entertainment to be had from the live racing on the mile-long oval at Turf Paradise, there are even more opportunities for bettors thanks to simulcast racing availability. This means that seven days per week, and all throughout the year, you can sit in the air-conditioned clubhouse and watch a myriad of races on the large-screen televisions that adorn the place. Various different tracks might be broadcast throughout the year, but it is a certainty that these 17 that represent some of the most attended racetracks will be open for action. For that reason, this review will take a look at each of these mainstays and provide a little insight into the venue.
But first, let us first have a look at the concept that is simulcast racing in order to understand why it is such a desirable form of gambling. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this form of equestrian betting is the convenience of being able to keep track of your favorite horses, jockeys, and trainers across the United States without having to travel and pay all of the expenses that accompany such expeditions. Of course, many of these tracks should be on the bucket list of places to visit for any true horse racing aficionado, but enjoying a simulcast is just about as good when you are looking to stay in the vicinity of Phoenix.
Now all of the feeds from these tracks are going to be live with as little of a delay as possible so that a bettor can be as up to date as possible in regards to the odds and pool sizes. This is favorable because of the fact that the betting can often be handled so close to the off time that any delay could be problematic. One of the other great features with the simulcast at Turf Paradise is the fact that all of the pools are commingled. This is widely different from some other betting locations where their simulcast pool may be separate from what has actually been laid down at the track in consideration. The problem with a small pool is that a single bettor can often widely sway the odds by simply making a large bet, and then there is going to be less money in the parimutuel pool to be divided up among the winners. With commingled pools, this is not a problem since it is effectively like you are placing the bet at the track itself.
Other than that, the betting on the simulcast races is just about the same as with the onsite action found during the live racing season. All of the same wager types can be made, and that includes the basic (win, place, show), exotic wagers, and others. With a worldwide market of over $115 billion every year, simulcast betting opens up so many more chances to participate in races that you might not otherwise ever get to see or test your luck on. So, use this as a guide to help boost your racetrack acumen and to get a better vision of the possibilities that abound at these locations across the United States, and then get to Turf Paradise so that you can enjoy all of the amenities. There are 80 betting carrels so that you can watch the race of your choice on a private monitor or opt for the big screens. Then, all of the concessions and food options are always available in the 2nd level Clubhouse that also gives a great view of the track outside. There is no reason not to use simulcast to exercise free rein and start winning today.
This track has received much laudation from horse racing enthusiasts over the years for being the sole racetrack that is actually inside the New York City limits. The three courses at the track consist of the main dirt track (1 1/8 miles), an outer turf course (1 mile), and an inner turf track (7.065 furlongs). It is an exquisite site that was acquired from its role as part of the Brooklyn Waterworks, and that is how it got the name of the Aqueduct Racetrack.
There have been a number of notable races that have been put on by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) that operates the site. It is suitable for year-round flat racing of thoroughbreds thanks to state-of-the-art irrigation and recent main track renovations started in 2017. Its proximity to the Big Apple has also meant that it has enjoyed a number of pop culture references including appearances in episodes of both The Sopranos and The Odd Couple as well as scenes in movies like The Bronx Tale, Lucky Number Slevin, and A Shock To The System.
2. Charles Town
There has been a lot of equestrian activity going on ever since the opening of this site back in 1933, and that has kept it one of the most energetic and unflagging thoroughbred venues in the country. The six-furlong dirt track has long been home of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic thanks to its 1987 introduction by NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff, and for a while, the million-dollar purse was quite a sum. It still is, but the eponymous Charles Town Classic is now the third richest contest in the United States with a million and a half up for grabs since 2009.
The facility has had a couple of different names over the years, known as both the Jefferson County Races and Charles Town Races & Slots. However, it is now known as the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races because of the addition of various table games and slot machines to go along with the racing and other amenities. There is certainly plenty of live action to follow along with through the use of the simulcast options. The site has mostly 7 p.m. post times during the latter portion of the week and occasional 12:30 p.m. posts.
3. Delta Downs
Boyd Gaming, the owner of Delta Downs, is known for their numerous gambling facilities across the country, and so you would expect nothing but top-tier at this spot in Vinton, Louisiana. There is flat racing for both thoroughbreds and quarter horses thanks to founder Lee Berwick, but now the racing has improved even more thanks to the purchase by Boyd Gaming. In fact, recent years have seen the production of several stakes-quality horses.
The six-furlong oval track is quite enough for immense action, and it is integrated with a Quarter-horse chute that is 550 yards as well as two thoroughbred chutes of 0.625 and 1.0625 miles. The track surface is fairly unique with a limestone base that is topped with Sabine River sand and clay. Likewise, a number of notable races are sent out for simulcast from the facility. The Delta Jackpot Stakes is the largest with a purse of $1 million for Grade III two-year-olds, and then the cognate Delta Princess Stakes that has another half million for two-year-old fillies. A number of futurities and derbies round out the racing season with some exciting action for all interested.
4. Golden Gate
This track’s full name is Golden Gate Fields, and it gets that name thanks to its Berkeley, California, location and its adjacency to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge; a suspension bridge and one of the Wonders of the Modern World. Thoroughbreds vie for the top spot on either the 9/10th of a mile turf course or the one-mile synthetic track. Tapeta is the name of the synthetic surface used there, and this consists of a porous asphalt or geotextile membrane base that is then topped with roughly 4 to 7 inches of sand, fiber, rubber, and wax. This is good news for race fans because of the fact that it is basically an all-weather surface that allows competition to proceed despite nature, and it is also good for the horses that may suffer fewer breakdowns on such a synthetic track.
The San Francisco Mile Stakes and Golden Gate Derby are two of the most notable races that have been held at what is now Northern California’s only major racetrack. Also, thanks to its vicinity, this track has enjoyed several pop culture appearances, including in both a song and video by local band Rancid as well as being in the Jack Kerouac novel On The Road and in the Eddie Murphy movie Metro.
5. Gulfstream Park
The state of Florida is not to be left out of the pool, and this racetrack in Hallandale Beach is quite an important venue in the sport of kings. The present dirt course is 1 1/8 miles in circumference with an accompanying mile-long backstretch chute, and then there is a one-mile turf course as well. One of the interesting features of the turf course is that there is a portable rail that can be shifted inside or outside depending on the race day. This helps to change the circumference as desired.
Recently, one of its greatest events has been the Claiming Crown that has become the claiming runner’s most important day and held at Gulfstream Park. There are 9 exquisite races, and the total handle has been seeing an increase lately so you may want to get a part of the over $10 million that changes hands there in December. The Pegasus World Cup held there is the richest horse race in the world, and the Sunshine Millions Day also draws a wealth of notable action.
6. Laurel Park
Laurel Park, also known as the Laurel Race Course for a while, was opened back in 1911 in order to bring the reins to Maryland. It attracts a varied crowd from its location between Baltimore and Washington D.C. There is flat racing of thoroughbreds on the one-mile dirt track with various chutes or the turf option that is a 7/8 mile and 254 feet inside main track. The turf composition is interesting and made up of a sandy loam soil that is embedded with a 90% tall fescue and 10% bluegrass mix. During race season it is kept at a height of four inches.
All of this accounts for some beautiful race action that is enjoyed by many from the glass-enclosed grandstand that allows for all-weather enjoyment as well as air-conditioning or heating as necessary for the viewers. The notable races held here include the state-bred showcase known as the Maryland Million Classic that helps to promote Maryland breeding, and then there is the Grade 1 Stakes Defrancis Memorial Dash. There is also a few Grade 2 events such as the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and the General George Handicap to round things off for a good season.
7. Los Alamitos
This track in Cypress, California, is known as the Los Alamitos Race Course, and it brings thoroughbreds and quarter horses to its location in Southern California. Although it is technically in the neighboring city, it does have a Los Alamitos postal address that can sometimes cause race fans to believe that it is actually located there. Nevertheless, the dirt track has been expanded from its initial distance to one mile in length with thoroughbreds and quarter horses racing on most nights live through the weekend of Friday to Sunday.
With four quarter horse stake-races held here, and each having a purse of over one million dollars, the Los Alamitos venue holds the prestige of running more of these than anybody else around the country. It is a great place to simulcast watch the horses under the lights, and one of the high-end races there is the Champion of Champions that takes its field from a number of qualifiers who have won previous races. There are also a number of futurities such as the Los Alamitos $2 Million Futurity and Ed Burke Memorial Futurity as well as the Los Alamitos Derby and Los Alamitos Derby to keep the season interesting.
8. Louisiana Downs
Louisiana is known for the Bossier City gambling and entertainment district along with its sister city Shreveport, and there are casinos, riverboats, and more. However, the true treasure there, in the eyes of a horse racing enthusiast, is the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs horse racing track. It opened in 1974, and then was eventually acquired by Caesars in 2002. The track has held some records over the years for both handle and attendance. One of its greatest races is the Super Derby that began in 1980 for three-year-old thoroughbreds. The first winner, Temperance Hill, quickly became one of only three thoroughbred horses at the time to pull in over a million dollars.
Overall, the facility is up there with the best, and it has a dirt mile oval that has chutes for seven and 10 furlongs as well as an inside Sawyer turf course that stretches seven furlongs and 50 feet. Many times, some of the horses that win or finish in the top tier at the American Classic Races will show up at the Super Derby, and the Tiznow Handicap is another one that brings in the fans who want to follow on simulcast.
9. Mahoning Valley
As one of the newer tracks on this list, opening in 2014, the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course racing venue is definitely a boon to Youngstown, Ohio. There is live racing during the months of October through April, and wagers can be made throughout the week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The mile oval thoroughbred track there has superseded the one that was once popular in Columbus, Ohio. The long stretch is 1,000 feet in length with a three percent bank angle that rises to six percent in the turns.
The average daily purse at the track has been quite competitive with the closest alternatives in nearby North Randall and West Virginia. For example, an average of around $106,000 was declared after the finish of the 2015-2016 meet. The owners are Penn National Gaming, and they now hold part of the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge (23 races and $5.35 million) there with two races. Namely, these are the $200,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes and the $75,000 Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff which are both six-furlong dashes with the former being the signature race at the track. The Best of Ohio Day is also held there in order to keep Ohio breeders in contention.
10. Oaklawn Park
This track and facility is named after its owner Oaklawn Jockey Club and sits comfortably in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The place opened way back in 1905 and has since worked its way into one of the top thoroughbred tracks in North America as decided by the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) that ranked it as number six out of 75 just a half a decade ago. The one-mile track there is a dirt oval, and there have been quite a few notables to have joined the field.
One of these was the recent “American Pharaoh” who many now know as the first horse to take the Triple Crown in 37 years. Those victories also earned it the title of American Horse of the Year, but its journey started well earlier, and a couple of Oaklawn Park victories helped to start that spectacular run in 2015. The venue also holds The Racing Festival of the South, which includes two Grade I Stakes races (Apple Blossom Handicap and the Arkansas Derby) as well as a host of other races at varying levels.
11. Penn National
Just a little east of Harrisburg in the city of Grantville, Pennsylvania, is another spot that emits simulcasts for all to enjoy. Known fully as Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, it has been delighting fans since 1972. There is a one-mile dirt main track and an accompanying 7 furlongs of turf. One of its greatest assets is the fact that it is able to handle a fuller season than most of the other thoroughbred tracks around the country, and that means that live wagers are handled a full 52 weeks of the year.
One of the home horses “Rapid Redux”, and his trainer David J. Wells, have taken the Eclipse Special Award. Though this award may not be awarded every year, it is certainly given to those with outstanding achievements and merit for the sport, and that speaks well of Penn National in general. In recent years, the Penn Mile has begun to be run of the turf side, and rated as a half million Grade II race in 2017, so it also carries some prestige. Similarly, the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap is held there as five furlongs for three-year-olds and up.
12. Portland Meadows
The Stronach Group has carried on a great American horse racing legacy at this track in Portland, Oregon. The company owns and manages a number of different tracks throughout the country and also backs the Xpressbet venture that allows fans to make bets online or over the phone and then watch the simulcast event. It’s quarter horses and thoroughbreds as usual at Portland Meadows, with a one-mile dirt track oval for the hooves to take a stride on.
The convenience of being just a short drive from downtown Portland keeps the track busy and full of live action to bet on in the Delta Park area. Some of the best milers to be found in the northwest take hold of this track as part of the Portland Mile. In fact, just this year in 2018 was the 50th annual running of this notable race. Oregon Championship Day is another one of the events that is most looked forward to at Portland Meadows, and its nine stakes events turn out a handle of over one million dollars for those fine horses that are bred in the Beaver State.
13. Sam Houston
Sam Houston was the historical American soldier who helped secure the independence of Texas from the hold of Mexico, and so it should be no surprise that he is heralded in many ways across that state. Such is the case with the Sam Houston Race Park that is situated in that eponymous city of Houston waiting to take wagers on the horses. There is a seven-furlong turf course along with the mile dirt track for thoroughbreds and quarter horses as well as some occasional running of Arabians. However, there is a lot of other festivities at the location besides just horse racing, and people can enjoy concerts and an auto show along with Dog Day at the Track and the Annual Food Truck Festival.
A number of different quarter horse races qualify as Grade II and Grade III there. Many of these are also named after the man who was once the President of Texas. These include the $100,000 Sam Houston Futurity (Grade II), $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (Grade II) , and the $35,000 Sam Houston Derby (Grade III). The $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (Grade III) is another notable event for thoroughbreds.
14. Santa Anita
A number of knowledgeable fans consider this thoroughbred track in Arcadia, California, to be the world’s most beautiful racing venue. This might well be because of the fact that it has the San Gabriel Mountains as a picturesque backdrop, but the action is surely on the one mile dirt main track or perhaps occasionally on the different type of turf course that is hillside and crosses the dirt. However, the dirt is also a unique synthetic that is called Cushion Track. It consists of a unique conglomeration of synthetic fibers, sand, and wax-coated elastic fiber.
This is all to help improve the drainage so that the track can truly be all-weather, and then there is again the benefit that many promote which is that the cushion track helps to treat the racehorses better. The Santa Anita Handicap and Santa Anita Derby are a pair of Grade I races that the track is well-known for, and then there is also a Sunshine Millions Day which can be held there in a similar manner as it is at the aforementioned Gulfstream Park. It is considered one of America’s “Most Endangered Historic Places.”
15. Sunland Park
The Sunland Park Racetrack is positioned in the New Mexico city of the same name, and it is a close neighbor to El Paso, Texas, and the country of Mexico itself. Since it first opened in 1959, there have been a number of jockeys to get their starts there. This list includes the notables Jerry Bailey, Pat Valenzuela, and Cash Asmussen. Bill Shoemaker was another well-known name in the sport who rode there as well after having hailed from the vicinity. Thoroughbreds and quarter horses all give their jockeys a ride that is simulcast around the globe.
The one-mile dirt oval is the main track that takes on racing four days out of every week during the meet. The highlight is the 1 1/8 mile Sunland Derby that is open to three-year-olds. With its recent upgrade to Grade III status, it is now considered a stringent Kentucky Derby prep race. That is vital because of the fact that when the Kentucky Derby has more than 20 entries it will look to graded stakes earnings, and that makes it suitable to take a shot at.
16. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Downs is one of the premier racing destinations situated at the “Top of the Bay” in Florida. It first began in 1926 thanks to Colonel Matt J. Winn and his partner Harvey Myers, Jr. who was an Ohio investor. Since then, it has changed names a few times over the years, but it continues to draw the crowds to see the American Thoroughbred horse racing. There is a main track that is dirt and goes the length of a mile, and it then has a seven-furlong turf course all to please those looking for action on the Florida west coast.
Festival Day is an annual showcase at the track that is capped by the Tampa Bay Derby which is a $350,000 Grade II race. The $150,000 Hillsborough Stake and the $200,000 Florida Oaks are also a couple of Grade III races that fill out the card on Festival Day, and they are primarily for older mares and fillies and three-year-old fillies respectively. The Trakus electronic tracking system is an excellent addition that can be found at some of the more equipped race venues such as Tampa Bay, and it helps bettors to see the exact location and position of all horses during a race.
17. Turfway Park
Last, but not least, is the fine Turfway Park action that takes place in the Boone County of Kentucky near the city of Florence. Its most recent accolade was a rating of number 11 out of 62 thoroughbred racetracks in North America, as noted by the Horseplayers Association of North America. Its one-mile oval has synthetic Polytrack which is a mixture of recycled synthetic fibers taken from carpet and spandex, silica sand, and recycled PVC rubber in order to provide excellent all-weather racing and ethical horse treatment.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is one of the most notable races at Turfway Park, and it has recently had a $500,000 purse while being rated as a Grade III for three-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. Likewise, the Bourbonette Oaks Stakes is another popular eight-furlong race for three-year-old fillies whose jockeys are looking for a part of the $150,000 purse. There is both a winter and a spring meet as well as a holiday meet, and there is just so much fun to be had there from Wednesday through Sunday all year round at this track with a storied history.