Handicapping Tip of the Day #32 – Just Like Baseball

Baseball and bat_promo_smaller by Art Parker

In baseball one is considered a good hitter with a .300 plus average, which means hitting safely in on or about 1/3 of the player’s official at bats. In horse racing we know, since it has been true for years and years, that the favorite wins about 1/3 of the races. But what about the horseplayer? Every player should strive to maintain a high average and a 1/3 strike rate with winners is actually good. Therefore it gets down to price odds. If you can select winners at about a 1/3 clip and you do not always bet the favorites then you have a chance at making money. Just like good hitters in baseball, the favorites fail 2/3 of the time and that should tell you that playing favorites is not a winning proposition.

Recap of the Belmont Stakes Card (2016)

track announcer with binoculars

Ed Meyer is the track announcer at Belterra

 by Ed Meyer, special for AGameofSkill.com visitors

The Triple Crown trail officially ended with the running of the 148th Belmont Stakes. Many watched these runners since their two-year-old seasons and you may find yourself getting a little sentimental about this chapter of their racing career ending.  Before you start putting away your notes and stats, we may have just started the real handicapping. We have late summer racing and, of course, the road to the Breeders’ Cup.   So start up your notes and watch-lists again as the best is yet to come.  Some of these runners will have serious Breeders Cup implications.

The (G-1) Acorn Stakes – One mile on the dirt

There was a solid group of six who went to post and the big chalk was the incredible Cathryn Sophia. All of these gals glimmer in their own right, but here is one you’ll want to keep on your watch list for future racing.

Go Maggie Go  has done very little wrong and comes to the races from the Dale Romans bran. This daughter of Ghostzapper had her worst finish in her brief career (4th) and I’m looking forward to her races down the road. She has two 1 1/8 races (9 furlongs) under her belt and looks to be finding herself with every race. She responded well to the rider’s commands and looks like this race is just a stepping stone for bigger things to come.

The (G-1) Ogden Phipps Stakes – 1 1/16 on the dirt

Seven fillies and mares took to the track led by Curalina who was the public favorite this day.

Sheer Drama doesn’t have to take her track with her. She is consistent and shows tactical ability at all distances. She lunged at the start this day and was wide before trying to uncork a bid.   This race is a “toss out” and handicapper’s beware. This daughter of Burning Roma is going to blossom into a real monster with a little racing luck.

The (G-1) Just a Game Stakes – One mile on the turf

A field of thirteen fillies and mares assembled and with a field this size you may have to go back and watch the replay three or four more times to get the correct read. Here are a couple of gals who will should be on the radar screen for handicappers down the line.

Faufiler – California jock Drayden Van Dyke was aboard for Graham Motion, and both rider and trainer are well versed on the greensward. This daughter of Galileo is a stone cold closer. As long as there’s a solid pace she’ll come rolling from the clouds. In time I think we’ll see her a few strides closer to the pace setters, and that will make double dangerous to pick off runners late in the lane. She mainly has traveled a flat mile, but her breeding suggests she may enjoy added ground. After shipping across the pond from France, she appears to be getting better with every start.

Recepta has a late punch that could knock down the champ at any oval. John Velasquez was in the irons this day, and she did very little wrong except come up a bit short nearing the wire. She’s well traveled and merits respect anywhere she’ll run. Her best efforts may range from one mile to 1 1/8 on the turf.  Things look very bright for the future.

The (G-1) Metropolitan Handicap – One mile on the dirt

Just like a well-aged wine I think Frosted will only improve with time. The time figures from every publication are off the charts and he dismissed the “Dubai-Jinx” after getting beat at Meydan and putting on one of the best shows of his career. His late summer-fall campaign will be one to behold if all goes well, and right about when the Breeders’ Cup frenzy is at a fever pitch this will be one of the runners we’ll all be talking about.

The  (G-1) Manhattan Stakes – 1 1/4 on the inner turf

Nine runners went to post and the public made Flintshire from the Chad Brown barn the public choice at the windows.

Flintshire (GB) – This world traveler from the Chad Brown barn had the services of one of the best turf riders in the game with Javier Castellano.  His passport is stamped in Hong Kong, France, Dubai, and the United States. He missed by a 1/4 length in the 2014 edition of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and this son of Dansili looked like he has yet to find his best gear.  One thing is for certain, every time he takes to the track he will be one of the tough guys to contend with, and if this race is any indication I can’t wait until we see him back on the weeds.

The (G-1) Belmont Stakes – 1 1/2 – The Test of Champions

As the media missed an opportunity to see Nyquist return for some payback from his Preakness loss, and the rumors swirled around Kent Desormeaux for personal problems. The fans we’re treated to a full field of thirteen runners and, in the end,  one incredible finish for the Triple Crown.

Destin – This son of Giant’s Causeway has the look of maturing colt at the right time. Add in some well deserved rest and a plan for the later part of the year and we’ll have one tough cookie going to post.  Take nothing away from the fast closing effort of the winner Creator who received a well timed ride from the ultra-talented Irad Ortiz Jr.  Looking ahead, I see a runner with tactical ability who will be feared as a front end presence or stalking just off the hot pace. He should probably find his best races in 1 1/16 – 1 1/8 events. His tactical style fits like a glove and this kind of ability plays well on any oval. By the time Breeders’ Cup is in full view, he’ll be one of the major players on everyone’s tickets.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #31 – Pretenders and contenders

 

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Art Parker

Most people believe that playing the horses is simply the act of picking winners. But before one can “select” a winner, the first logical step is to “de-select” those that can’t win. In other words, the most important process in handicapping a race is to separate the pretenders from contenders. There are many different ways to do this; speed figures, class, current form, etc., but one needs to find the method that works for them. Once the field is narrowed down, the handicapping task becomes easier. After all, it is much simpler to select a winner from just a few than to select one from a large field.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #30 – Conviction

Buddies Brad & Howard at the 2015 NHC

Buddies Brad & Howard at the 2015 NHC

  Know When to Turn Off Your Track Buddies

By Art Parker & Rich Nilsen

One of the great things about going to the track is developing friendships. It’s great to have a group of guys that sit around the table and discuss racing and enjoy the company of one another. But there needs to be a time when you tune out your buddies, especially if they begin to spew an abundance of analysis. One thing about playing the horses – it is your pocketbook that will either swell or diminish when you go the track. Therefore, it is best to depend solely upon your judgment and what is revealed by your own study.

The same goes for the ‘talking heads’ on TVG.  Take what they say with a grain of salt.  Now if they interview a trainer and that person gives some revealing information about their runners, then that is a different story.   But don’t let who TVG Analyst #5 likes in the 7th at Belmont sway your opinion on that race.   Stand firm in your convictions.

Handicapping Tip #29 – The Quarter Pole in Horse Racing

The big red and white pole at Churchill Downs

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

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?”

Handicapping Tip of the Day #27 – Watch KY Derby Preps Closely

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Art Parker

There are many ways to handicap any race and the Kentucky Derby is no exception. One of those ways is called “trip handicapping” and all too often it is very revealing. When it comes to finding a Derby horse you may wish to review all of the prep races for the last couple of months. Naturally one thing you should look for in a prep race is a good excuse why a certain horse did not win or get close to winner. Looking for horses that were forced to slow down or simply had to wait forever to find racing room may provide some insight into the Derby. Whatever you do when reviewing taped races is to notice the start. Knowing which horses that may have trouble at the gate can give you a good idea about who will have position early.

 

 

OptixGRID: A Fully Integrative Past-Performance Platform

Part III of The Future of Handicapping (OptixEQ)

While OptixNOTES can be viewed in a standalone format, you can also view the OptixNOTES information as part of a more detailed past-performance platform in OptixGRID, which also includes plenty of other proprietary data fields as well as traditional past-performance information (like odds, finish position, fractional times, etc.). OptixGRID also includes a unique speed-figure rating called OptixFIG, which helps players assess whether a horse is even fast enough to be competitive in a given race.

To help you process the information available in OptixGRID, the OptixEQ team has made this past-performance matrix fully interactive; in other words, players can sort and filter the data however they’d like. For instance, if you just want to see a horse’s turf races, you could easily filter the surface column to show only the turf races. Let’s say you wanted to view the field in order of the fastest OptixFIGs, then you would simply sort the OptixFIG column in descending order. No other past-performance platform has the functionality to manipulate the data in such a unique and personal way.

The OptixGRID looks like an expanded version of the OptixNOTES platform, including all of the traditional past-performance data as well as several proprietary fields unique to OptixEQ. To learn more about OptixGRID, you can view the instructional video and documentation here: https://www.optixeq.com/?products=optixgrid#doc.

 

OptixFIGs

As part of its integrative platform, the OptixEQ product includes its own proprietary speed figures along with its past-performances in OptixGRID. We thought it would be interesting to show you a list of the OptixFIGs for this year’s Kentucky Derby prep races as a point of reference.

OptixEQ-KYDerbyprepsv2

Is It Worth It?

As you can see, OptixEQ has all of the traditional handicapping elements covered in its fully integrative platform, but it puts a new spin on how players can analyze and interpret a race. Who has time to spend hours poring over raw data in an old-school past-performance product when you can get the same information—and so much more—distilled for you in an easily accessible and visual way?

Once you start using OptixEQ, you will never want to handicap a horse race in the traditional way again. The information here is too good and too valuable that you’ll feel the need to use it on a daily basis. Whether you’re an avid cash player who plays multiple tracks or a contest player who has to handicap fifteen mandatory races, you’ll find that the information available in OptixEQ will give you an edge over the competition—and it will save you so much mental energy that you will find yourself making better decisions and wagering much more smartly and efficiently throughout the day.

And the best part is: OptixEQ is eminently affordable. Daily packages start from as low as $10 a day, while a full monthly package (which includes OptixPLOT, OptixNOTES, and OptixGRID for all available tracks) only costs $180 (which is essentially just $6 a day). There are way more expensive products on the market—and none of them deliver what OptixEQ can in terms of sheer data, handicapping proficiency, and racing analytics.

Simply put, OptixEQ is the future of handicapping.

Did you miss Part I?

Did you miss Part II?

OptixNOTES: Trip Handicapping in the 21st Century

Part II of The Future of Handicapping (OptixEQ)

While OptixPLOT will give you an excellent overview of the race shape, race flow, and pace dynamics of the race, helping you choose which races offer the best opportunities, OptixNOTES will help take your handicapping into the 21st century.

OptixNOTES is a proprietary trip-handicapping past-performance platform that includes performance ratings, trip descriptors, and form projections (along with detailed extended comments) from the OptixEQ team of expert handicappers. Think of them as past-performance grades and trip descriptions that can help you better understand and predict a horse’s current and future form.

OptixNOTES are available for most of the major tracks on the major circuits, and they are an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to assessing a horse’s chances of winning a race. Since watching replays is incredibly time-consuming—and sometimes fruitless if you really don’t know what you are looking for or how to use that information—the OptixEQ team does all of the work for you, grading a horse’s previous trip/performance while also commenting on that trip and sometimes even projecting where that horse might be headed in the future.

The other cool thing about this platform is that it’s vibrant—everything is color-coded for easy readability. Positive attributes are green while negative ones are red.

Here are the OptixNOTES for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, including one of the extended comments from his Monmouth race:

OptixEQ-Notes

This type of trip-handicapping data is available for several tracks on the major circuits, giving handicappers a massive edge when it comes to assessing a horse’s form.

For more information on how to use OptixNOTES, visit the product information page at: https://www.optixeq.com/?products=optixnotes#doc.

Tomorrow in the conclusion, Part III, we take a look at OptixGRID as well as the OptixFIGS for all of the Kentucky Derby preps.

Did you miss Part I?  Click here

OptixEQ: The Future of Handicapping – Part I

It’s an exciting time to be a horseplayer with a wealth of data and information available for whichever handicapping tools fit your needs. But in this information age of big data, sports analytics, and high-level algorithmic approaches to gambling, the horse-racing industry has lagged far behind—until now. Enter OptixEQ, an equine analytics handicapping platform that is sure to take your game to the next level.

OptixEQ is a brand-new, unique handicapping package that presents relevant data in a dynamic, integrative, and multidimensional way. All of the elements of traditional handicapping are factored in—i.e., class, form, speed, and pace—but the data is combined into a platform that is more in line with the statistical analysis done at the highest levels of professional sports, fantasy sports, and gaming—and that is because the team behind OptixEQ consists of full-time horseplayers with backgrounds in statistical modeling and software development.

OptixEQ was designed for horseplayers by horseplayers with the sole purpose of creating a handicapping product that would save players countless hours of having to study the Form, do pace analysis, create speed figures, and watch replays. This vision has been realized in OptixEQ, which integrates all of these handicapping elements in a visually dynamic way.

The OptixEQ platform consists of three major components: OptixPLOT, OptixNOTES, and OptixGRID.

 

OptixPLOT: Not Your Grandfather’s Pace Analyzer

The old adage, “Pace makes the race,” will take on a whole new meaning once you start using OptixPLOT, the new gold-standard when it comes to high-level pace analysis. OptixPLOT is a multidimensional, data-visualization tool that allows horseplayers to instantly assess the pace dynamics of a race, while at the same time, accurately portraying the overall shape of the race, so that users can easily isolate lone-frontrunners, strong closers, or tactical stalk-and-pounce types.

The purpose of the OptixPLOT is to give horseplayers a true sense of how the race will be run based on the relative early speed, pace velocity, and finishing ability of the horses in the race. Horses show up on the graph where they are expected to be at the first and second calls, while their finishing ability is represented geometrically, thus creating a multidimensional display of the most sophisticated pace analyzer available to handicappers.

The OptixPLOT can also be changed using a horse’s recency or “today’s” surface and/or distance parameters.

Here are three different OptixPLOTs, showcasing three key running styles: lone-frontrunners, deep closers, and stalk-and-pounce types (note: the larger the square, the stronger the finishing ability of the horse):

Lone-Frontrunners:

OptixEQ-LoneFRv2

 

Deep Closers:

OptixEQ-DeepCloser-ver

 

Stalk-and Pounce Types:
OptixEQ-DeepCloserv2

 

For more information on how to interpret OptixPLOT, you can watch the videos and read the FAQ on the product information page here.

But there’s  more to OptixEQ.  Tomorrow we take a look at OptixEQ Notes.

Mountaineer Runner is a Home-grown Special

Mountaineer racetrack     By Bill Mooney for MNR

     In regards to racehorses, Jasizzle is as home-developed a product as you’ll find. The seven-year-old gelding is co-bred, raised, trained and owned by Tommy R. Mills. He’s the 5-2 second choice in the morning line for Saturday’s $25,100 Welcome Back Dash, the five-furlong, opening night feature at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.

     In last year’s edition of the Welcome Back, Jasizzle took the lead right out of the gate, shook off a couple of challenges and prevailed wire-to-wire by 3 ¼ lengths. That was a snowy night in March. Saturday promises to be a warm night in April. Not that it matters to Jasizzle. He’ll run anytime, anywhere.

     Jasizzle has made 49 career starts, and he’s picked up a paycheck in every one of them. They have ranged in value from $143 he earned when finishing sixth in his career debut at Keeneland back in 2011; to the $37,500 he picked up when winning a turf allowance sprint at Churchill Downs at age three.

     “He has been a dream for me,” said the 53-year-old Mills, who bases his seven-horse string at the Kentucky Training Center near Lexington. “Jasizzle is just as sound today as when I started with him. He’s something of a fan favorite at Mountaineer, and the horsemen there have a big appreciation of him too, although none are particularly anxious to run against him.”

     There are nine victories on Jasizzle’s career resume (including at least one every year he has campaigned), along with 17 placings. He has accumulated a career bankroll of $388,669. Jasizzle has won on fast tracks, tracks rated good, a muddy track, a pair of synthetic surfaces (at Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs) and a firm grass surface. He has proven to be a horse for many a course.

     “But he especially seems to like Mountaineer,” Mills said, and past performances lend credence to that belief. Jasizzle has made 14 career starts at the Hancock County track, winning five of them and placing in seven others.

     Four times, Jasizzle has been second in black-type company. He finished in front by a length in the 2013 edition of the Senator Robert R. Byrd Memorial at Mountaineer on the West Virginia Derby undercard, but was disqualified to the runner-up position for sharply veering in on another horse at the break.

     So, that elusive black-type triumph has yet to be added to Jasizzle’s record. But he was second, missing victory by just a neck, in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill at age four. That makes Jasizzle graded-stakes-placed, and he was also the runner-up in the Sophomore Sprint in 2012 at Mountaineer as well as the 2015 edition of the ‘Byrd Memorial.

     His pedigree includes impressive components. Jasizzle’s sire, won the 2006 Belmont Stakes. Jasizzle’s dam, Silky Bay, registered maiden, allowance and a pair of claiming scores from 18 career starts. Those are modest credentials. But Silky Bay lists the Hall of Famers Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Buckpasser in her family tree. There’s some royal blood flowing through her veins.

     Mills claimed Silky Bay for $10,000 at Ellis Park in August of 2006. “I initially had a couple of partners in her, but then Silky Bay got injured and I bought them out for $13,000,” Mills said. Twice, Jasizzle has been consigned to auctions. He fetched a $29,000 bid at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale in 2010, but was not sold. And he was put in, then taken out, of the Keeneland January Sale in 2012.

     Sprinting is strictly Jasizzle’s forte – five- to 6 ½-furlong distances. Early in his career, Mills tried stretching him out to 1 1/8 miles on the grass at Keeneland, but after vying for the lead early, Jasizzle finished well off the board.

     Luis M. Quinones has the mount on Jasizzle Saturday. Quinones has won with him four times in the past. “I’ve been aiming for six months for this race,” said Mills. “And after it’s run, I might retire Jasizzle. Maybe make him a lead pony. He’s done everything for me I could ever ask.”

     Mountaineer Notes. Tuesday. April 26, will be “Help a Horse Day” at Mountaineer. Contributions will be solicited for the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (also known as CANTER USA), which provides Thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers.