Friday, July 30, 2010

Pick Four Saratoga Jim Dandy/Diana Day

Let's get right to it...

Race 8 - NY-Bred Maidens, 1 1/16 Turf

Simply put these races - most of the time - go to the right connections. That being said Chingachgook is an obvious pick. This son of Empire Maker has been knocking on the door for Graham Motion in his last two, sits in the garden spot for new jock Leparoux, who excels on the turf. No trainer is hotter than Chad Brown, picking up his fourth win yesterday from only eight starts. Atitlan has some decent turf pedigree and has been working steadily towards this unveiling. Look no further....

Race 9 - Diana - Grade 1 F&M 1 1/8 Turf

Wow! You won't see many Grade 1 fields as tight and talented as this one. Each entrant has a graded stakes win with Proviso, Phola and Forever Together having multiple Grade 1 victories. I see two ways go, using the three top-tier fillies or mare listed above or hitting the "All" button. Call me chicken, but the "All" button is where I'm going. Just as an argument can be made against the rest of field, let me make a case for: My Princess Jess (win over the track an only a neck and half away from Proviso in last); Dynaslew (has awoken in last three with new trainer Seth Bezel and has potential to wire field); Shared Account (back-to-back top notch efforts) and Maram (did I mention she is trained by Chad Brown?) Dismiss any of these at your own risk.

Race 10 - Jim Dandy - Grade II - Colts 1 1/8

A field of nine that lacks the star power of Monmouth's Haskell and as I see it, a much easier race to handicap. A Little Warm and Miner's Reserve put up two of the best Beyer speed figures of all three-year-olds in their one-two finish in an optional claimer at Deleware. I like A Little Warm more since he doesn't need the front as much as Miner's Reserve and there looks to be several others that want the front in here. The classiest of all here is probably Fly Down. Besides his steadied Louisiana Derby run, he's won two and just missed in the Belmont Stakes.

Race 11 - $25,000 Claiming, 3YO and Up, 1 1/16 Turf

The definition of a difficult handicapping race - six last out winners from the first eleven entrants...whew. If I get this far, the three that will be on my ticket are: Chromospere goes for mediocre jockey turned crazy good trainer Rudy Rodriguez. You simply have to include this one off Rodriguez's recent success! Ticondero is two for his last three and you might get a price due to his trainer and his shipping in from Churchill. Although with Leparoux up, he could end up the favorite. British Banker is my top choice even though you have to go back to February for his last win. Going from an allowance starter to this level may even be considered a class drop and by the way, Chad Brown trains....

For those keeping track, that's a $1 Pick Four of: 1-5/ALL/5-9/1-3-9 for $84

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off to the Spa

Tomorrow has to Saratoga for the 16th straight year. I was hoping to have a 7-minute video on The Spa for your viewing pleasure, but it's only 90 percent done and I'm out of time...check back next week and it should be up. It's pretty good.

CCA Oaks - let's give two longer shots than even money favorite Devil May Care a long look.
  • Connie and Michael has every right to improve in her sixth lifetime start and third start off the layoff. Looks to turn the tables against the top choice and has the tactical speed to do so.
  • Acting Happy was absolutely determined to win the Black Eyed Susan in her last. Rick Dutrow brings her back off that race and scores 32 percent will such layoffs. If she is quick enough, she could give Devil May Care all kinds of problems, tracking just outside her flank.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Choosing What's Most Important

That's your charge - handicapper, gambler whatever you may call yourself - deciding what of the many, many pieces of information available is the most important in making your betting decisions. And that's just for one race! Playing multi-race wagers or deep exotics takes a replication of excellent effort several times over. It's no wonder the very best of us hit between 20 and 33 percent of the time. Maybe you'll get hot and just "see" the races for a limited time with multiple big ticket hits, but this will be followed by longer, colder streaks.

With so much numerical data packed into past performances, whether they hail from, Brisnet, Equibase or where ever, there is more than enough information to keep a handicapper busy for hours on end. The keys are to limit what information you'll use to determine winning wagers and what information you'll disregard. Knowing everything simply makes placing winning wagers more difficult.

If the above statement sounds counterintuitive consider this excerpt from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable:
"Show two groups of people a blurry image of a fire hydrant, blurry enough for them not to recognize what it is. For one group, increase the resolution slowly, in ten steps. For the second, do it faster, in five steps. Stop a point where both groups have been presented an identical image and ask each of them to identify what they see. The members of the group that saw fewer intermediate steps are likely to recognize the hydrant much faster. Moral? The more information you give someone, the more hypotheses they will formulate along the way, and the worse off they will be. They see more random noise and mistake it for information."

Sound familiar? What really do you need to know about a race to determine a winning wager?
  • Some pace information - who will take the lead? will she have company? does the pace scenario favor your pick or will he have to work against it?
  • Some rider/trainer stats - you can't dismiss a trainer that wins 33% with first time claimers, 28% off a long layoff or a jockey that moves a horse up on the turf. (An aside: great and well-know jockeys bring horse odds down, but don't necessarily get them to the winner's circle.)
  • Limited breeding info - does she have winning siblings on the turf? can he get 10 furlongs? does the sire have a high percentage of first-time winners?
  • Track bias if any exist - for instance hardly any horse held the lead at Monmouth yesterday (July 16) discounting all front-runners, period!
  • How much are you willing to bet?
Beyond this you must develop a system, you are comfortable with. Some may use speed numbers of some kind exclusively, track bias or some developed power rankings based upon their own inputed data. Does this make anyone a consistent winner? Hardly.

Check out the horse wagering pick websites and they'll give you up to four possible picks per race, then use those four picks to show you how much you could have won - if you somehow managed top put their four picks per race into a winning Pick 3, Pick 6 or even exacta tickets. It's bull...throw enough on the wall and see what sticks and then tout your winning shit! A simple Pick 4 using four picks per race is a $256 ticket for every buck.

Pick what's important, toss what's unnecessary, choose wisely and put yourself in a position to get lucky!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TBA - WTF - The Solution Under Our Nose?

The subject of this post comes from Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance and other members will be posting their views to the questions below. These posts can be seen by clicking atop the blog roll to your left.

We all love Keenland, Del Mar and Saratoga; Will reduced racing dates, like Monmouth, be the future of live horse racing? Is a reduction of racing dates the best way to ensure Thoroughbred racing's future?

The answer to the above questions are maybe...and this comes from the blogger who suggested it.

Tracks (or should I write race-casinos) from Altoona, IA to Bossier City, LA to Erie, PA may already have the answer - slots or gaming supporting their purses. Even our neighbors north of the border have figured out a way to offer claimers almost double their asking price and maiden purses hovering around $70,000 at Woodbine Racing and Slots.

Of course this takes a population willing to put up with gaming/slots and a governing body able to pull it off. (Here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts where the Legislature meets almost 300 days a year, a gaming bill sits in committee with no current option to support the state's two horse racing facilities - one Thoroughbred and one Standard bred. And this comes almost 15 years after two casinos were built in neighboring Connecticut carting thousands of Massachusetts residents and gambling/entertainment dollars south of their state border everyday.)

The math for gaming-supported racing is not hard to follow. A percentage of said gaming dollars goes to purses, greater purses attract more horsemen looking for a living and owners for a return on their investments, more horses means bigger, more competitive fields which attracts more bettors and ultimately translates into more handle, more revenue back to the horsemen, the state and the track. Does anybody lose here?

For those states without the guts to bring gaming in, Monmouth's plan - reducing dates to increase purses and revenue - is the best way to ensure a tomorrow. As it stands right now, Monmouth is on a pace to pull in the same total handle as it did in 2009 in half the racing dates. This means average daily handle is twice what is was last year. How many entertainment business do you know that can generate such equal revenue in half the time?

Of course Monmouth's great gamble comes at a cost. Their purses now average almost $700,000 a race day more than last year and the track will offer about $17 million more in purses to generate the same handle. In addition, with only 50 racing dates over a longer stretch of time, the average Joes working the windows, cleaning the facility and possibly even those along the backstretch will have less days of earning pay.

The tracks with short meets like Del Mar, Keenland and Saratoga have history and destination on their side. The racing in each of these venues is top-notch and bettors flock to the track or to their simulcast outlets or computers to bet the higher quality of their racing.

What other everyday tracks like Suffolk Downs or Aqueduct or even Santa Anita, without any casino dollars coming in the near future, have to do is to make their tracks destinations through either shorter seasons, limited days, greater promotion and heck even improvement in customer service and experience. Of course getting someone to travel by the East Boston gas tanks or the into the cold of a New York City winter is a little tougher than looking out at the mountain backdrop that is Santa Anita, which has its great share of history on its side.

Finally even racetracks with casino/slot action should limit their race dates to encourage fans to come out and see the "event" that is horse racing. Rolling it out daily, as the industry did in the less competitive times of its heyday in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, is one thing. But running a field of seven, $12,500 maidens on a Wednesday afternoon when most people work, don't care and find it easier to buy a lottery ticket, is another thing all together.

Like Monmouth other states should bite the bullet and try something new like limiting dates, working interstate, if need be, to develop a circuit of racing or supply purses that bring quality horses and people' gambling dollars out. For horse racing will exist in some form or another 30 years from now. It's up to racetrack owners, state governments and the horsemen to figure out a better model to deliver a quality product to its handicappers and gamblers.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rock Stars Get Rock Star Treatment

At the bequest of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance I will put my feelings down on whether or not Jess Jackson deserves or should demand greater purses when his prized filly, Rachel Alexandra races. Other opinions will be posted throughout the day at the TBA webpage, which you can reach by clicking on the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance atop the blog roll on your left.

Right or wrong, Rachel Alexandra's connections will push purses whenever and where ever they decide to race her. While some may feel that is unfair or outside the "normal" way Thoroughbreds run for top money, it's all about demand baby.

Here are several reasons why Jess Jackson will simply be handed or request higher purses:

  • Rachel Alexandra draws crowds, which in turn draws money to the track that offers the purse. Could Oaklawn have recouped its $1 million purse for Rachel and Zenyetta, probably not, but the track would have received more than $1 million in free publicity throughout the country and in the long run this would have been good for their business.
  • Rachel Alexandra is one of the few Thoroughbreds to transcended our beloved sport and make it into sports pages and onto SportsCenter whenever she runs. This draws attention to the filly and the sport in general, which is never a bad thing. All horse racing wagering outlets gain greater business - simulcast, live and on-line - when she runs.
  • Which came first, the offers for more purse money or the demand by Jackson? Maybe it doesn't matter, but if the offers were made (by Jackson holding out on his decision to run), why shouldn't he 1) run Rachel Alexandra for more money and 2) continue to make the demand? This is like saying professional athletes shouldn't take the many millions owners pay them...come on, this is America!
Just one bloggers opinion...