Handicapping the Holiday Horse Betting Weekend at Santa Anita Park

California gamblers can embrace a four-day holiday weekend horse-racing package at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.

The lineup includes a Friday card with seven races, followed by nine-race programs and a $100,000 stakes race Saturday through Monday.

California horse race betting enthusiasts also can play the popular Coast to Coast Pick 5 in the $1 wagering pool and the 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 variety from Gulfstream Park in Florida. They can access the action at Santa Anita, through varied simulcast facilities, or via the TVG app.

As Santa Anita bettors prepare, speed horses are performing fairly well on the dirt, while stalkers and closers are hitting the winner’s circle on turf.

Here’s a look.

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Has a 1 p.m. post and seven races rather than the usual eight. But the fields are larger and races 1, 4, and 7 have double-digit entries, ensuring enough betting interests to pay reasonably well.

Bettors who like big fields don’t want to miss race 1. It is wide open, has 10 entries, and is the breeding grounds for a nice payout.


The nine-race card has a 12:30 p.m. post and features a competitive Wishing Well Stakes.


Features a nine-race card, 12:30 p.m. post, and the Spring Fever Stakes.


Has a nine-race card, 12:30 p.m. post, and the Tiznow Stakes.

Along with that lineup, bettors can consider the popular Pick 5 and Pick 6 route. 

The Coast to Coast Pick 5 on Saturday and Sunday involves races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park on one ticket. The 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream Park is open to California bettors any day Gulfstream runs and it’s lucrative.

This is how they break down:

In the Coast to Coast Pick 5, gamblers have to pick the winners of five straight races, spread across Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park. The $1 minimum wager not only has the player-friendly 15% takeout, but the joint venture featuring races from both tracks will familiarize bettors with each circuit. 

That could be helpful when bettors take interest in major Gulfstream Park events, like the $1 million Florida Derby on April 1. 

The Coast to Coast Pick 5 has been paying. Last Sunday’s wager returned $2,634.90 for 73 winning tickets.

The pool averages more than $264,000 since being launched in early January. The average payout through mid-February was a hefty $4,667. 

On normal weekend race cards, the payouts are below that. But when a major event is involved, like the $3 million Pegasus at Gulfstream on Jan. 28, the pool escalates. The pool has been as high as $369,000 and there were two notable payouts above the average. One was for $6,985 on Feb. 4. The other was for $15,215 on Jan. 8, when there was a smaller pool but few winners.

Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream

Bettors also like the 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream.

It’s a different choice, like selecting a 20-cent casino slot game rather than $1.

This involves picking the winners of the last six races there. 

California horse bettors can get to this one too. On Saturday, that means playing Gulfstream races 7-12, with the seventh post at 12:08 p.m. PT. Santa Anita players will already be at the facility and they can also wager on the TVG app.

The Rainbow Pick 6 is like a casino-game jackpot that builds and bursts with a huge payday.

It had a carryover pool of $600,000 entering Thursday. 

The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70% of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30% is carried over to the jackpot pool.

This pool multiplies quickly. It gets so big that the track routinely announces mandatory payout days and the pot swells to $3-5 million.

So, there’s something for everybody at Santa Anita.

Wishing Well Stakes

And on Saturday, gamblers find an enticing Wishing Well Stakes.

It is 6 1-2 furlongs on turf and has a post time of 4:30 p.m.

This is the field, breaking from the rail out.

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Stella NoirRevs up and tries again. After finishing eighth in the $200,000 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes, she triumphed here in allowance company off the pace. Comes back up to $100,000 and faces Lady Jae, who has beaten her.
Lady JaeExcellent third in the Senator Ken Maddy. Was stalking most of the way and flying late. Comfortable at this surface at this track. Will probably be coming late. Followed with a second in the Las Cienagas Stakes.
Founder’s DayFigures to have a tough day. Fourth behind Stella Noir in allowance company and now asked to make significant step up in class.
Bay StormHigh-quality, has hit the board in 11 of 12 career starts and has four wins. Enters off a nice second in the $100,000  Megahurtz  Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 4. Runs well at 6 1/2 furlongs or a mile. Has the most earnings in the field at $509,080. Will be heavily played, but came out of a $100,000 race while Eddie’s New Dream and Big Summer graduated $150,000 events.
Eddie’s New DreamExcellent second to Big Summer in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf last month at Santa Anita. Covered this exact distance and made a sustained bid from the middle of the pack, just missing. Like Bay Storm, hits the board almost every time. Every reason to suspect he will run well.
Big SummerDid someone say rematch? Here we go again. Had enough left to outlast Eddie’s New Dream in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. It’s hard to separate these two horses. You like one, you may like both. Figures to run big. Has 11 races. All 11 in the money. Four wins. Major contender.
Countess RosinaWas right there with Lady Jae, finishing fourth in the Las Cienagas, narrowly missing second and third. Another quality horse in the field.
Freedom FlyerMake it a threesome. Hit the wire with Lady Jae and Countess Rosina in the Las Cienagas. Nothing separates these horses on form. You like one? You may have to like three. Finished strong and gave a strong effort to the wire in the Las Cienagas. Gets Frankie Dettori in the irons, always good.
Aqua Seaform ShameHas been beaten decisively by Lady Jae and Stella Noir in recent races. Can’t make a case.

Betting Overview

This one is exciting. Bay Storm and Big Summer have looked a shade better than the rest, but what a tight call.

Countess Rosina, Freedom Flyer, and Lady Jae are practically the same horse.

Big Summer and Eddie’s New Dream also are hard to separate.

And then you have Bay Storm.

Which horse came out of the best race?

It’s quite a puzzle. Demand value because either a longshot or mid-priced horse should hit this board.

What Gamblers Carry Over From Last Weekend

On Friday, horses rallied on the turf, while dirt had its share of gate-to-wire winners.

Jockeys Flavien Prat and Franco Dettori had two wins each.

On Saturday, the sixth race, as projected, was difficult to handicap, and it was lucrative. The $10,000 maiden race with a field of 12 fulfilled its forecast as longshot heaven.

The $2 superfecta paid $12,446 in the low-level maiden race at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Handsome Gary rallied from well back at the pack at 9-to-1 to get up over front-running Liar Liar, second at 13-to-1. Afternoon Heat surged for third at 12-to-1 and Midnight Special was fourth at 2-to-1, slammed down from 6-to-1 morning line odds.

The $2 exacta paid a stunning $318.20 as the favorites were nowhere to be seen in the top two. The trifecta paid $1,618 for a $1.

The $2 superfecta paid $12,446, meaning that the  20-cent superfecta returned $1,244. The 10-center was worth $622.

Sunday featured many small fields and short prices, good for chalk bettors.

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About the Author
Handicapping the Holiday Horse Betting Weekend at Santa Anita Park 1

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for California Casinos, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including California Casinos.