Horseplayers seeking a trend that’s their friend can look no further than the newest course in North America: Gulfstream Park’s just-installed Tapeta track. And they need look no further at the betting window than their friendly closer.

Gulfstream Park-Tapeta
Edwin Gonzalez became a trivia question when he rode Emoji Guy to the first victory on Gulfstream Park’s new Tapeta track on Sept. 30. Gonzalez leads all Gulfstream jockeys with six wins on the new, all-weather surface. (Image: Gulfstream Park Twitter)

Over the first two weeks of racing on Gulfstream’s new all-weather track, closers have beaten a veritable path to the winner’s circle. Only two front-runners crossed the wire first during the second week of racing at the Florida track. And that’s an improvement over the Tapeta track’s opening week, when only one front-runner found the winner’s circle.

Gulfstream Park wrote 19 races for the Tapeta track in its second week of action. In those 19 races, 11 horses prevailed from mid-pack or farther back. That extended the first week’s trend, where 11 of 18 horses came from behind. The seven other horses who won were stalkers or pressers, meaning they were near – but not in – the lead.

Only three pace-setters in 37 races finished what they started. That’s an 8% win percentage for front-runners.

Favorites cooling off after sizzling opening week

So what else did we learn after two weeks of action from Gulfstream Park’s new all-weather surface? That favorites are winning slightly less than half the time (18-for-37). They dominated the first week’s action, winning at a 61% clip (11-for-18).

Then, the predictable regression to the mean kicked in for Week 2, when chalk prevailed a more realistic 35% of the time (7-for-19). Four of those seven favorites ran on last Sunday’s card.

The other trend regarding Gulfstream Park’s Tapeta is that it’s not a bad idea to bet on horses with turf experience. All 19 horses who won second-week Tapeta races had at least one turf start on their resume. During the first week, 16 of 18 winners had a turf start under their saddles. Of those, 28 of 37 winners came out of a turf start into their Tapeta victory.

Turf to Tapeta comes more naturally

This isn’t surprising. Most turf horses transition to synthetics more easily than do dirt horses.

Putting the human element into the equation, look to Edwin Gonzalez. He leads all jockeys with six Tapeta victories, including the first race run on the synthetic surface aboard Emoji Guy on Sept. 30. Four of those came riding for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, who shares the Tapeta training lead with Antonio Sano. Each has five training wins on the synthetic surface.

The Tapeta factor comes into play on Thursday’s Gulfstream Park card, which features a guaranteed $75,000 pool on the 20-cent Rainbow 6. Three of the six mandated races for that pick-six go on Tapeta.

Gulfstream Park opened the Tapeta track for racing on Sept. 30, closing its turf course on Sept. 19. That gives the turf a much-needed respite before the Championship Meet begins in December. Gulfstream Park became a year-round course with the closure of Gulfstream Park West last year.

When the turf course reopens, Gulfstream Park will become the first track in the world to offer racing on three different surfaces: dirt, turf, and synthetic.