Search Results for: art parker

Sudden Passing of Horse Racing Writer Art Parker, a Cornerstone of

Handicapper Art ParkerWe are so deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Art Parker, who was a great writer and friend of the sport. Art loved horse racing and for years he wrote handicapping and fan articles for The truth is that the site would likely not exist today without Art’s assistance over the years.  He provided great content when I was simply to busy to do so due to work and family obligations.
Sadly, I never got to meet Art in person as he lived in another state; in fact, one without a racetrack. But we talked numerous times on the phone, and like what happens so often in the sport of horse racing, our mutual love for the game made us friends for life.
Art Parker, who was a long-time editor of newspapers in Montgomery Alabama, passed from complications from a car accident.  Art was the epitome of a true gentleman.  He was kind, intelligent, a great family man, and I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He will be greatly missed.
Please lift up prayers for his wife and family.
God speed Art.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #35 – Start at the Start

by Art Parker

Saratoga starting gate

Good horseplayers investigate troubled trips when trying to determine the truth about a horse’s past. The best way to do this is by watching video tape replays. The best place to start watching and begin your analysis of a troubled trip is the start of a race. The first three seconds of a race can mean everything. A horse may be prohibited from his usual running style. A slight squeeze at the start can cost three-four lengths. Trouble can be found at any point in a race, but more trouble occurs at the start than anywhere else. And, when you view the start of a race try to get a view from every angle possible.

Related Article:

Racing’s Most Important Moment is When the Gate Opens – great insight on this topic

Handicapping Tip #29 – The Quarter Pole in Horse Racing

The big red and white pole at Churchill Downs

Handicapping tips from

by Art Parker

There two critical points in the running of the Kentucky Derby: the start and the quarter pole. Located at the very top of the stretch at Churchill Downs is the quarter pole, meaning it is a quarter of a mile to the finish line from that point. The race does not end there but one should always view the race, in some ways, as if it does stop at the quarter pole. Why? Because if a horse cannot gain position by the time he hits the quarter pole his chances of winning the roses are greatly diminished.

All too often we hear the talk of distance runners that will close with all the extra ground in the Derby, but that really doesn’t happen much. Those that are on or near the lead at the top of the stretch have the best opportunity to win the Derby. So when you handicap the Kentucky Derby, ask yourself the question, “Who can win the race, without emptying the tank, if the race were only one mile?”

“Off The Charts” Trip Notes – April 10, 2014

Looking for horses to potentially bet back next time out?  This exclusive and free feature Off the Charts Trip Notes (April 10, 2014) finds horses throughout the country who encountered some type of noteworthy trouble in their most recent start or just gave an extremely impressive performance. Please note that horses spotlighted in Off the Charts Trip Notes are never an automatic bet back, but rather runners to give a serious look at given the trips and the trouble spotted by our expert handicappers at  Horses below listed in track name order.


STORIED LADY (Race 3@AQU, March 24, 2014, Mile 70 yards, Allowance Optional 1X) The fourth choice left the gate in less than ideal fashion and was then squeezed between foes all of which made for the beginning of a less than desirable trip. She stalked the pace along the rail and started to make a move about the quarter pole, but was forced to steady slightly off heels and wait until 1/8 pole before having room inside. She then broke loose and went on to win impressively.


LILY THE PINK (Race 8@GP, March 26, 2014, one mile turf, Optional Claiming 1X) The fourth choice was checked no less than four times during the course of the race; once into the turn, three times down the backstretch and then was forced to wait just before entering the stretch. Swung wide in stretch but had lost all interest by that time.

SPRING LIKEACOBRA (Race 9@GP, March 26, 2014, mile 1/16 turf, Optional Claiming $75,000) The fourth choice was compromised quickly in the race being shut off early, then checked and waited and forced to go to the rear before the first turn. Waited until the backstretch until making a wide move for over a quarter mile just to get back to fifth position, but was then caught widest of all throughout the entire turn and while coming close to making the lead, fizzled probably due to the early goings.


DEBBIE’S TUDE (Race 4@LRL, March 27, 2014, 5 ½ furlongs, Starter $25,000) Longest shot on board was off a beat slow and then stalked the second flight from the rail. Began to rally at the quarter pole and made progress. Eventual winner came inside and crowded here about 1/16th from the wire, she was checked and taken up, rallied again to get second.

Tap into Art Parker’s personal trainer database for Keeneland with his newly released e-book “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” – available for less than the cost of an exacta box.


READY RIVER (Race 1@OP, March 27, 2014, 5 ½ furlongs, Maiden Claiming $12,500) Fourth choice broke out and was bumped hard at start, rushed up into contention when entering the far turn, was boxed in and held up behind a wall of foes for an extended period of time, tried to get through in mid-stretch and was squeezed in between horses and forced to wait. Finally free inside the final 1/16th and closed to get second.


JAZZIT (Race 9@PRX, March 24, 2014, one mile, Claiming $16,000) The third choice was tangled up and broke poorly instantly 6-7 lengths behind. Stayed along the rail and began to rally when the field entered the far turn. Was boxed in with nowhere to go directly behind leaders at the quarter pole and was forced to wait. Finally got loose and swung to the middle of the track while trying to gain momentum. Finished fourth but only a length form the winner and was closing.


YANKEE FORTUNE (Race 9@TAM, March 26, 2014, one mile turf, Claiming $16,000) The favorite had his head turned sideways when the gate opened and he was off a beat slow. Stayed along the rail and advanced up to third but was boxed in almost the entire backstretch. Just before the field reached the turn he had less room and was checked, pulled up, and lost a great deal of ground and several positions. He rallied while in the turn, darted between foes and swung out wide when entering the stretch. Ran well to finish fourth, missing the show spot only a nose, but the slow start and trouble in the turn proved very costly.

New to Playing the Horses? This is the Easy Way to Start

Wagering Tote self service machine


By Art Parker, author of the upcoming “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

For several years my OTB location was a greyhound track.  This was not the best atmosphere for a horse player, sitting among a large number of those that play greyhound races. They think differently than horse players, handicap differently than horseplayers and, to a great extent, wager differently than horse players.

The pari-mutuel system is the same for both greyhound and thoroughbred racing, obviously, but the popularity of wagers differs. At greyhound tracks the quinella is the favorite bet and it seems like most greyhound tracks have a special tote board just for quinella odds. Exactas, trifectas and superfectas are popular at greyhound tracks also but there is little interest in horizontal wagers such as a pick 3, pick 4 or pick 6, which are popular at thoroughbred tracks.  Straight bets, such as win place or show, do not seem to appeal to those that play the greyhound races.

While I was using the greyhound location as my OTB home, I made several friends that played the other quadrupeds faithfully. Most of those tried to take an interest in horse racing since it was available. One of the attractions was the occasional big payout at the horse tracks in the vertical wagers, e.g. trifecta. Obviously one of the biggest factors for larger payouts is the size of the pools. At many greyhound tracks a big trifecta pool may be $8,000; trifecta pools at a thoroughbred track are often 10-20 times that amount, depending on the track. At almost all greyhound tracks fields are limited to 8 runners, and larger fields in a horse race can help trigger a larger payout especially when the longshots come home. The vertical wagers are often astronomical compared to those at a greyhound track.

One of the things that I could never get the greyhound enthusiast to grasp was the importance of betting to win or to win and place. It is deeply rooted with greyhound players to only play exotics wagers. Often I was asked for my favorite horse in a race. After telling my friend who I liked, he would go and throw my choice in an exacta box or trifecta box with a couple of other runners, only to tear the ticket up when his other horses didn’t run. I would often ask, “What happened? My horse won the race.” And then I would hear “Well I didn’t have the others,” or something like that. “Why didn’t you just bet the horse win,” I would ask only to receive crazy looks. I would hear “You can’t make any money,” or “That’s no fun,” or something else senseless.

All of this is one reason why I say, to anyone that is learning to play the horses or wants to learn, when it comes to wagering learn how to bet to win or bet to win and place first. It’s hard enough to pick winners so why make it more difficult on trying to figure out who will be there for second and third, etc.? Besides, if you are going to play any wager at a track you must first have some idea who can win the race, right?

The first advice I give anyone who is new to the game is this: Do not try and get rich in one day. The worst thing that can happen to a “debut” horseplayer is to hit a trifecta or superfecta and go home with $800 in their pocket. That person will be so entrenched on betting the bigger vertical exotics again they will probably send out $2,000 in the next few visits trying to score big again.

Making money at the track is like eating an elephant. You got to take one bite at a time and not try to eat the whole thing.


A Profitable Idea for Trips & Trainers

13 Mistakes Horseplayers Need to Avoid in the New Year

A Method for Attacking Lightly Raced Horses

Interview with George Woolf winner, jockey Mario Pino

Little Mike: The Big-Hearted Old Gelding

By Art Parker

There’s nothing like the feeling I get when it happens. I feel grateful for racing and I feel grateful for those that make it go, especially the day-to-day warriors. The horses that help fill the stalls and the starting gate more than all others are the geldings. Many of them make up the large majority of the senior citizen regime at every track. Every day racing in this country depends on those old guys to keep our race cards filled. Every day racing almost always gives you the thought of claiming horses, the guys we call cheap.

Those old gelding claimers hit the track every day and so many of them seem to last and last. They go out there and try with every step and many of them run in pain, and we know that. But even those win races and come back full of themselves acting like a little kid. There is a special place in my heart every time I watch some of these guys do battle. Often I don’t even bet a race because I want to see the old geezer beat the young punks. I pull for them, and sometimes don’t even bet on them simply because they don’t warrant a bet. So I just cheer them on wanting them to beat some smarty pants 3-year old or even whip up on an arrogant young 4-year old that has won a few races.

Almost all of those guys are cheap in terms of value. Cheap they are, but they each have a heart that’s worth millions and millions of dollars. And my heart has a place for those horses.

Speaking of a million dollars and speaking of the old guys, there’s one that is not so cheap. No, he is not John Henry. He is not Forego, nor is he Kelso.  But I love him just as much because he is something special like those other old geldings. I’m talking about the lovable gelding known as Little Mike.

Little Mike in Dubai

Little Mike in Dubai

Little Mike was the oldest horse in the race when they went to post in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont the last Saturday of September. At post time he was winless this year. A trip to Dubai, which was anything but productive, probably took its toll on him. He had not run his best in two outings since returning to the states. He was overshadowed in the race at Belmont by a killer looking three-horse entry from the powerful Ramsey stable. The Dale Romans trainee, usually a front runner, did not take the bait when the Ramsey rabbit took the lead. Another old Mike with the last name of Smith told Little Mike to wait and he did. He waited and took the lead at the top of the stretch and then fought off the two Ramsey closers with courage and determination to prevail by the narrowest of nostrils. The two old Mikes did a great job together. I found myself yelling at the computer screen pulling for the old man to win it.

Little Mike rewarded my cheering with a $16.80 parimutuel redemption. But I didn’t really care about the money. I just wanted to see the old man with a big heart win. Little Mike has also won the Arlington Million and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at 17-1 and many more races. He has won 13 times from 26 wins and bankrolled nearly $3.5 million.

Little Mike is not cheap but he is like his gelded brethren that give me that great feeling about racing. How could anyone not love a horse like Little Mike, or any old gelding that gives their all on the track? They give us everything with all their hearts and all they ask for is some hay, oats and water. Let’s hear it for Little Mike and the other old men that still hang around the starting gate. They don’t demand a new contract every time you turn around, they don’t have agents and many of them play the game long past the time other athletes are washed up.

Thanks Little Mike and to all of the others with old legs and big hearts. And, by the way, Little Mike… if Romans takes you to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup, I will be pulling for you.

Off The Charts Trip Notes – October 3, 2013

The exclusive and free feature Off the Charts Trip Notes (Oct. 3, 2013) searches out horses throughout the country who encountered some type of significant or meaningful trouble in their most recent start or just gave an extremely impressive performance. Please note that horses spotlighted in Off the Charts Trip Notes are never an automatic bet back, but rather runners to give a serious look at given the trips and the trouble spotted by our expert handicappers at  Horses below listed in track name order.

Churchill Downs

SONG OF LIFE (Race 11@CD, September 28, 2013, 7 furlongs, Claiming $5,000) The fifth choice in a very competitive field ran well along the inside, had to wait slightly before the turn, and then midway in the turn when showing run and advancing, was forced to check abruptly in the area of the 5/16th pole losing ground. The gelding came back to gain third, and while no match for the top two after the incident, ran well to keep the show spot about 4-5 lengths from the top pair.

Kentucky Downs

PLAYITAGAIN HOWIE (Race 5@KD, September 25, 2013, 6 furlongs turf, Claiming $25,000) The fifth choice in a very large field was traveling well near the front when he was forced to steady and check hard early in the turn. About a 1/16th of a mile later he was forced to steady again and fell back losing all interest.

Get the scoop on the winning trainers and exactly how they win at Keeneland in the all new “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” book by Art Parker of  Download instantly to any device.


AUGUST OSAGE (Race 4@LRL, September 25,2013, 6 furlongs, Claiming $25,000) The second choice in the field stumbled at the start and immediately went to last. He made a good run into the turn when coming from last advancing to a few lengths behind the leaders. He ran well from there to finish third after spotting the leaders several lengths.


MAGIC HARBOR (Race 2@PRX, September 23, 2013 6 ½ furlongs, Claiming $25,000 3L) The favorite was running from off the pace as expected and was close behind the other 5 competitors, which were spread across the track at the 3/16th pole. MAGOIC HARBOR has plenty of run to overtake the field. He tried to go in one hole but was shut off and then waited for another. Unable to go to the rail or wide, MAGIC HARBOR was forced to wait behind the field all the way to the wire, finished fourth but still reasonably close.

Presque Isle

PRIVACY INVASION(Race 5@PID, September 24, 2013, 6 ½ furlongs, Claiming $7,500) The favorite broke slow and then appeared very sluggish in the opening furlong. He eventually caught the tip of the field after being far, far back. He proceeded to rally well but was forced 8-10 wide throughout the majority of the turn and into the stretch he was by far, the widest of all. Gained significant ground in the final quarter mile but settled for the show spot.

CITRUS DRIVE (Race 6@PID, September 25, 2013, 6 ½ furlongs, MSW) The favorite was forced in at the break and then sandwiched between runners causing him to drop back to last. He stayed along the rail and advanced to the third flight. Moving into the turn he advanced further and moved outside, widest of all in the turn. He hit the stretch about 7-8 wide and rallied very well top win. The victory could have been easier and by much more with a clean trip.


HEZA FOX (Race 2@SUF, September 25, 2013, 5 ½ furlongs, Claiming $5,000) The favorite broke thru the gate before the race, then broke slow while starting from the extreme outward post. Moving into the turn he advanced quickly passing others and gaining the lead before the top of the stretch and put the field away, winning easily by 4 lengths.


D’WILDCATS GOLD (Race 6@WO, September 25,2013, 1 1/16 miles, Claiming $20,000) The fifth choice, receiving Lasix for the first time, stayed close to the rail and raced close up into and through the first turn and for almost all of the backstretch, but found herself boxed in when the field moved into the far turn and she dropped back nearly last. Midway in the turn the apprentice rider moved her through along the rail and she was very near the leader when the field arrived at the 3 /16th pole. Unfortunately the front flight moved over enough toward the rail where she had to pull back slightly and was forced to wait. She could not get to the outside and was in a waiting mode until the 1/16th pole. She was able to move out enough to rally and she finished fourth only a length from victory.

Artificial surface specialist honored with Claiming Award

Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comAfter easily winning the fourth race at Presque Isle Downs last Wednesday night, I’am Toorific was named the Claimer of the Week. The dark bay mare seized the lead when the gate opened under rider Ricardo Feliciano and led the field every step of the way in the $5,000 claiming event over a mile as the favorite. The six year old mare stopped the timer at 1:38.53 for her third win of 2013 and returned $5.00 to her supporters. Owned by Anne Walsh and trained by Ryan Walsh, the daughter of Teton Forest has fallen in love with artificial surfaces. Of her 6 career wins 5 have been on artificial surfaces. Her career earnings now exceed $94,000 and she has been in the money 14 times from 37 starts. I’am Toorific was sold at auction in 2008 for only $1,700.

— Art Parker, author of Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns

Ken & Sarah Ramsey off to a fine start at Keeneland

Why not make it a dozen?



Entering the 2013 spring meeting at Keeneland, Ken and Sarah Ramsey accumulated 11 owner titles at the Lexington oval. Six fall meetings and five spring meetings have the Ramsey name at the top of the owner’s list. By the looks of things during the opening weekend at Keeneland last week, the Ramseys couldn’t wait to win their twelfth Keeneland title.

Keeneland Green LogoIn the first three days of racing the Ramseys were victorious in the first two races of the meeting, the last three races run, and one in between. The Ramseys won six of the first 29 races; a tad more than 20% run at Keeneland. The only bad news during the weekend is that the Ramseys actually endured fifteen consecutive races without a win! Go figure.

What is refreshing about watching the Ramseys win races is that there is nothing restrictive about their ownership involvement. In this game we see many owners that only come to the track when their horse runs, and usually their horse is a stakes runner. But with the Ramseys you see a little bit of everything, and they appear to be just as proud of a lower level claimer as a graded stakes runner.

Let’s look at the Ramseys winners in the first three days at Keeneland’s spring meeting.

Day one, race one: A $30,000 non-winners of two lifetime claimer. The horse was claimed at Gulfstream.

Day one, race two: An optional claimer “three other than” that shipped in from Fairgrounds.

Day two, race one:  A $16,000 claimer that was claimed for $30,000 at Fairgrounds.

Then the “drought” when the Ramseys were winless for 15 consecutive races.

Day three, race seven: A debut runner.

Day three, race eight: Entry level allowance (turf) shipper from Gulfstream.

Day three, race nine: A $10,000 claimer that shipped in from Turfway Park.

Thus far at the Keeneland meeting, trainer Michael Maker has won five races for the Ramseys and trainer Wesley Ward has won one race for them. Others are likely to show up in the winner’s circle with Ramsey horses. In the meeting last fall the Ramseys won with Maker, Ward, Wayne Catalano and David Vance. Last fall the Ramseys won a total of a dozen races. After just three days this spring they already have half that number. There’s a good chance no other owner can even match what the Ramseys have done thus far.


The highlight of the opening weekend was the Grade One Ashland Stakes and the impressive romp made by Emollient, a gate to wire winner that looked to be light years ahead of the other three year old fillies. Mike Smith rode Emollient to a nine length winning margin after breaking from Post 13. Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott, Emollient covered the one mile and sixteenth in 1:43.49. Emollient is a daughter of Empire Maker out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch. With Belmont winners on both sides of her pedigree, Emollient should be even tougher the longer she goes.

— Art Parker is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” now available in all e-book formats for the 2013 spring meet. Get the inside scoop on the horsemen that win at Keeneland!


Off the Charts Trip Notes – December 13, 2012

Off the Charts Trip Notes (December 13, 2012) spotlights horses throughout the country who encountered some type of significant or meaningful trouble in their most recent start or just gave an extremely impressive performance. Please note that horses spotlighted in Off the Charts Trip Notes are never an automatic bet back, but rather runners to give a serious look at given the trips and the trouble spotted by our expert handicappers at  Horses below listed in track name order.


OMEGA STAR (Race 4 at AQU, Dec 13, mdspwt, 2yo, 6f). First time starter by Candy Ride ran a huge race, chasing the heavy odds-on favorite and lone speed in the lane while well clear of third. Gelding broke from the rail and was boxed inside turning for home. He showed a lot of composure getting out of that tough spot to finish a clear second to a horse that was 1-9 in the early wagering. Wins soon for Jimmy Jerkens barn, a stable that seems to be heating up.


BOY DOG (Race 2 at FG, Dec. 7, mdcl, 5f dirt). This 2-1 shot broke from a very difficult outside post with a short run into the far turn and was hung out wide throughout; meanwhile the winner was able to save a lot more ground. Despite that, he tried hard all the way until the rider wrapped up some yards from the wire.  Can win back in a similar spot with a better draw.

Tampa Bay Downs

SHARP OMAR (Race 5 at TAM, Dec. 7, mdcl, 2yo, 1 mile turf). This was not one of D L Parker’s best rides. This “live” turf runner was in good stalking position but stuck down on the inside on the backstretch. Parker got this guy up on heels and steadied hard, losing 4-5 lengths heading into the far turn.  Was blocked again at the top of the lane and had to alter course. He took the lead in mid stretch but could not hold off the fresh closer, who was one of the betting favorites.  Ran a big time winning race.