Complimentary Pace Report for Opening Day at Kentucky Downs

Predicting the pace of the race is a critical aspect of successful handicapping.  Today, I present a pace chart which breaks down where each runner is expected to be during the running of the race – on opening day at Kentucky Downs.

Obviously, starting breaks and jockey tendencies/decisions play a major role in how the race plays out.  But put the percentages in your favor BEFORE the race by anticipating how the race will be run.  From there, you can decide which runners may benefit and which may be compromised.  It can often be the deciding factor between choosing your preferred horse in the race.

 

Sunday, 9/5/2021
Kentucky Downs
Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown/FTS
12.0 Furlongs / Turf Slow 7 3-5-9 2-8-6-4 10-1
Race 2
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Unknown 2 12-14-16 11-4-13-8 1-3-5-6-7-9-10-15
Race 3
8 Furlongs / Turf Very Fast 3-6-5 8-14-7 12-1-2-10 4-11-9-15-16-13
Race 4
8 Furlongs / Turf Modest 6-7 4-9 5-1-10-8 3 2-1A
Race 5
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest 3 9-4-11 13-14-1-10 8-7-6-2-12-5
Race 6
8 Furlongs / Turf Slow 4 6-10-2 7-3-9-8 1-5
Race 7
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest *14 5-12-13 7-11-15-10 8-2-3-9-16-1-6 4
Race 8
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Unknown 6 13-3-7 14-12-8-1 2-4-5-9-10-11-15
Race 9
10.50 Furlongs / Turf Slow 6-7-5 1-4 8-3-2 9
Race 10
10.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 8 4-1-9 12-7-11-3 6-2-5-10
Race 11
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 10 14-15-13 3-11-5-9 12-1-2-6-8-16-4 7

Horse Country Kentucky – Now Booking for Coolmore at Ashford Stud

copyright DarbyAmerica

Dates for Coolmore at Ashford Stud are now available through October 2021!  Please know effective July 1, select stallions including American Pharoah and Justify, will not be on the tours as they prepare for shuttling to Australia. Curious about shuttling? We share a little more below…

In the Southern Hemisphere, the breeding season runs August – December…so while we are winding down breeding in Kentucky, it is getting started for them. Many of our Kentucky stallions participate in a practice called shuttling, conducting their breeding duties in the Southern Hemisphere.

Luckily, these guys are used to traveling (they did it a lot in their racing days!), they have travel buddies (most have dedicated staff with them wherever they go!), and they’ll be back! Our member locations will still be offering fantastic experiences, but we understand that there may be interest in particular horses on tours. While we can’t ever guarantee a horse on a particular tour, we do like to share the info about shuttling as some of these guys leave the country!

We keep you up to date as the stallions return late this year/early next year.

Source: Horse Country Kentucky

A Poker Champion’s Knack for Knowing

Poker Pro Vanessa Russo

Poker Pro Vanessa Russo

Making the Best Decisions

In poker, the way we used to delineate players who relied on their intuition was to call them “feel players.” This could range from amateurs who knew nothing about strategy to highly decorated players like Phil Hellmuth. Most players start out with some basic strategy combined with gut instinct. As they move up the ranks, their strategy continues to improve and they tend to rely less on feel. They have default hands they specifically open from each position. They develop strategies for certain board textures and learn how to categorize hands that need to be played a certain way. Eventually, at the highest stakes, they may even develop a strategy derived from running millions of simulations on a computer. This process is vital and necessary to becoming a top poker player.

But if everyone is using the same tools, what separates the best from the fifth best? Or twentieth best? Is it superior reasoning ability? Is it a better handle on their emotions? Is it just running more simulations or ‘working harder?’ Amongst the ultra-elite, what makes the difference?

Fedor Holz was the best tournament poker player I’ve ever played with. I have no doubt he would’ve continued to dominate the high-stakes scene had he retired to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. What made Fedor special was…

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3 Handicapping Factors to Look at When a New Race Meet Opens

WIN WIN WIN SETS TRACK MARK IN PASCO; 2 OTHER STAKES RECORDS FALLby Glen S.

A new racing meet starting up adds an extra dimension to handicapping these races.  Do some research, be prepared and you will be ahead of the curve. Here are a few things to look for in the first week of racing at a new meet:

Let’s begin with the trainers:
-Understand the difference between the local trainers and the trainers that ship from track to track
-Sometimes the local horses are returning off longer layoffs and may need a start or two
-The trainers that move from track to track usually have a plan and that is “win early”
-Find those hot trainers quickly because after a week or so, everyone else jumps on board

Preview of Ohio racing’s Belterra Park meet in April.

Here is where you take advantage of the public that doesn’t follow or do the research early. After about a month the trainer stats will have the shipped in trainers with a great record and the locals not so good. But remember, the win early trainers had that as their goal, whereas the locals are in for the long haul.  In other words, be patient.  The local trainers will win their fair share of races.

Understanding where the horses are coming from
-It takes a bit of experience but ask around or even reply to this blog and I will help you out. What I mean by this, the level of
competition varies greatly from the A, B and C tracks in North America. Get to know them.  What tracks produce winners at this meet, and which ones don’t?
-For example a horse coming from Santa Anita and now racing at Fonner park, will not look good on form. But what to
look for is, did the horse show speed. The speed horses from top track are far better bets than the plodders that just
ran at the back. Big difference from a horse showing lots of early speed and finishing last than a local plodder that passes one or
two late.

Get detailed meet statistics on any track with Equibase

Last tip, know the horse
-Is the horse ready to run today, e.g. many works coming in?
-Is the horse at the right distance or does this look like a prep for a later race?
-Is this the right surface for the horse in question?

After you have done your above research and made your notes, you still need to look at the race shape to see how the race sets up.  This requires a little more work, but it certainly can pay off in the end.

Good racing

Horse Racing Bets and Wager Types

DelMar how to place a wager

copyright Del Mar

Wagering is what drives the sport of horse racing. The thrill you get when your horse hits the finish line in front is second to none. Let’s take a look at the most popular horse racing wagers, in very basic details, for you to begin to learn and experience that thrill firsthand.

 

Straight Horse Racing Bets

Win Wager

The easiest wager one can place on horse racing is the win bet and, thanks to its simplicity, it is the most popular among horse racing fans. Wager on a horse to Win.  If he or she wins the race, you collect the payoff based on a $2 win mutual.  When you wager on a 2-1 winner, for example, you receive the base wager ($2) times the odds (2) for $4.00 plus the original wager back for a total of $6.00.  Your profit, in this case, is $4.00.

It’s that simple.  The hard part, of course, is uncovering the horse that will win.

 

Place and Show Wagers

The place bet is wagering on a horse to finish no worse than second, and the show bet is wagering on a horse to finish no worse than third.  There is often confusion among newbies, believing that a horse must finish third in order to cash on the show bet.  Many a ticket has been discarded because of that mistake.

In Europe most of the ‘show’ wagering is actually referred to as ‘place’ betting.

 

Exotic Horse Racing Bets

 Daily Double

This is the simplest type of exotic wager, and probably the oldest.  The Daily Double is combining the winners of two consecutive races.  If your wager includes both winners, you cash.  The base wager is either $1.00 or $2.00 depending on the host track.

What are the tax rules involving horse racing wagers?  Learn more about how the IRS now treats big winnings on the horse races.

Exacta / Perfecta

The exacta is picking the exact order of the top two finishers in a race.  You can play the exact straight or you can box the wager, so that if theexacta horse racing basics horses finish in any order, one-two, then you cash.  You can include as many horses as you wish in your exacta box, but the cost of the wager goes up exponentially and your chances of turning a profit diminish greatly. The base exacta wager is usually $1.00.

In Canada the exacta wager is referred to as the perfecta.

 

Trifecta

The trifecta is picking the exact order of the top three finishers in a race.  You can play the trifecta straight or you can box the wager.   The advantage of the ‘box’ is that if the horses finish in any order, one-two-three, then you cash.  You can include as many horses as you wish in your trifecta box, but the cost of the wager goes up exponentially.  The base wager is usually either $0.50 or $1.00.

 

Superfecta

The Superfecta is picking the exact order of the top four finishers in a race.  You can play this quad bet straight or you can box the wager, so that if the horses finish in any order, one-two-three-four, then you cash.  Like the exacta and trifecta, you can include as many horses as you wish in your superfecta box, but the cost of the wager goes up exponentially.  At many tracks throughout the country, the base minimum wager is only $0.10 and that makes the bet affordable for the recreational horseplayer.

The industry has added a lot of new bets over the past few years, and we’ll take a look at them in an upcoming primer.

Lessons from the First Big Online Tournament of the Year

By Rich Nilsen

The first big online handicapping tournament of the year was held over the weekend of Jan. 9-10 at horsetourneys.com, and I was fortunate enough to win into this $1,500 buy-in event via an initial $28 feeder.  It was also the same weekend at the local Tampa Bay Downs handicapping contest, so plenty of work was required to prepare for both events.

The Flo-Cal Faceoff, the Players Championship (April 2-3) and the Spa & Surf Showdown (August 14-15) comprise the new 2021 Tourney Triple series at HorseTourneys which features additional bonuses and prizes if you do well over the three contests.  The Flo-Cal closed on the morning of January 9th with a staggering purse of $570,373 based on 429 entries and a top prize set at $205,019.  The contest was comprised of full-card mandatory races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita on both Saturday and Sunday, so this was going to be a long weekend.

On day one I got off to a very good start in the Flo-Cal Faceoff by hitting five winners from the first nine races at Gulfstream Park.  The problem was that I missed the big longshot that came in early in the day ($37.00 to win, $17 to place) and that missed $54 in bankroll was going to be difficult to overcome.

Unfortunately, I did not fare nearly as well at Santa Anita, so most of my Saturday bankroll came from South Florida.  I ended the day with over $97, an admirable score that was within ‘shouting’ distance, but that only put me in the top 25% of the field.  The lucrative prize structure was paying down to the top 28 players at the conclusion of the weekend.

Day Two of Flo-Cal

I decided I was going to swing for the fences on Sunday.  ‘Grinding it out’ seemed like a difficult strategy to make up the $60-90 deficit.  Hindsight is 20/20 and that proved to be a mistake on a day where shorter price horses were consistently winning throughout the afternoon.  The first longshot of the day wouldn’t come in until nearly 4pm when Weisser scored in Gulfstream Park’s 8th race, paying $27.80, $11.80.  I did not have him, and the situation was looking bleak.

However, I am not one to give up, knowing that in the span of just one-two races, a tournament player can make up huge strides on the leaderboard.  In the very next race at Gulfstream Park (race 9), I eyed a runner that was trying the turf for the first time.  The Munnings filly had won two of her three starts when sprinting and she had good tactical, early speed.  She looked like the type of filly that could win going 5 furlongs on the grass.  She was a juicy 17-1 and I knew if I could get this horse home, I was back in the top 50 of the standings.  I would then have a chance for some nice prize money if I could finish the day strong.

Choose Joy, my bomber, tracked closely in third and was loaded turning for home.  She surged in the final strides at the leader, but the front runner who had been off since June fought back and held on by a diminishing nose.  I got a $15.00 place payoff but missed out on an additional $36 for the win.  Numerous players had the 14-1 winner, and, instead of sitting on the first page of the leaderboard,  I was now sitting in around 170th  and the light at the end of the tunnel was very dim.

It wasn’t too long before the final race of the long weekend was upon us.  Sitting in about 140th and being only $20 out of the top 100, I had to decide if I was going to shoot for the top 100 to earn some points in this Triple Tourney event, or if hitting a bomb could move me into the top 28 of the cash prize winners.

In the field of 11 there were only three cappers and a 17-1 shot on the board.   The math told me I was blocked.  There was simply no way that I was going to pass over 100 players no matter what horse won.  It made more sense to find a horse I really liked at good odds.  [In the end my calculations were correct and even if I had hit the final contest race winner, I would have only ended up about 40th… but I digress.]

Not that I was considering the favorites, but the shorter priced horses in the field did not strike fear into anyone.  #11 Miss Dracarys had only raced one time.  She was let off at odds of 23-1 in her debut, indicating that she wasn’t exactly ‘well meant’ by her connections.  Despite that, she won, but now she was being asked to transfer that form on the other side of the country – not an easy task for a young horse.

So, I was on the lookout for a runner that had a strong chance of winning and represented some value.  I needed at least 6-1 odds to secure a top 100 finish, but of course, the higher the odds the better.

Santa Anita race favorites

#10 Empire House was starting for the dangerous Jonathan Wong outfit, but this runner had never attempted the turf.  She was getting first time Lasix and had a pedigree to handle the surface switch.  She made sense at odds of 9-1, but #4 Magical Thought was even more appealing.  Starting for trainer Peter Miller, arguably the best turf sprint trainer in California, this horse was dropping out of a graded stakes race and was cutting back from one mile to a preferred sprint distance.  She was also 9-1 and just the odds I needed to pass a lot of players on the leaderboard.

The Pivotal Question

When I first handicapped the race, it didn’t take my long to pass right over the #1 horse.  Having seen Mountaineers shippers lose at an extraordinarily high rate over the years, I didn’t care for the cheap maiden graduate to move to Santa Anita and win.  Although she had won by a large margin (over a bad field) she had “lugged out” in the lane, another negative note.  Two races back this horse had lost at Belterra Park.  Win at Santa Anita…are you kidding me?  Next.

Now, my Dad, who taught me how to handicap, would not have been so rash.  He would have looked at this odd shipper and asked himself the question, “What is this horse doing in this race?”  And that is the question that would have led to the correct answer.  He was here to win.

Santa Anita race 9 winner

The Mountaineer shipper had moved into one of the top barns in Southern California, that of John Sadler.  He had given the filly a long string of workouts, fairly consistent and dating back to at least early October.  She showed two bullet works in early October and a sharp 47.3 drill, sixth best of 52 at the distance on October 17.

Sadler was putting up one of the top jockeys in Southern California, Umberto Rispoli.  Rispoli is one of the best on the grass and also one of the best out of the gate.  This horse had flashed very quick early speed in her two races, and that is one of the main assets you typically want in a 6 furlong turf horse.

Why in the world would a top California barn obtain a lowly maiden winner from West Virginia?  By the stallion Cinco Charlie and out of a modest winner, the filly didn’t have much of a pedigree.  However, they clearly saw something in this runner and felt that she could fit a certain profile out West.  The connections were right, and they were handsomely rewarded.

The Final Race Result

With dusk falling over the stunning San Gabriel Mountains, Five Pics Please cruised to the front right out of the gate and ran the field off their feet.  At odds of 29-1 she easily held on for the shocking score in the $63,000 race.  She stopped the timer in a swift 1:08.91.

By not closely analyzing Five Pics Please and failing to ask the obvious question that my father would have asked, I missed out on a big longshot winner.  The Flo-Cal Faceoff champ turned out to be Alan Levitt, a 12-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship.  Back in 2012 he compiled a $195.20 bankroll en route to a 7th place overall finish in Las Vegas.  With one race to go Levitt was sitting in 19th place in the Flo-Cal Faceoff, and he wisely pulled the trigger on the Mountaineer bomber.  He catapulted past the 18 players in front of him and took down the lucrative six-figure cash prize.

The Final Race Result winner Santa Anita

copyright 2021 Equibase.com

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Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Red Flags on this Big Favorite

How to Improve Your Handicapping in the New Year

by Glen S.

Was 2020 a successful year in your handicapping? If so, great, but why not make it even better. If wasn’t a good year, why do you think that was? Do you know where you struggled the most? Was it playing too many sequence bets or betting under-valued horses?

Every horse player needs to know their strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t, you will not know when to take that big shot on a horse or wager.

I find the biggest mistake by horseplayers is playing the same way year after year and not trying to improve their handicapping.  It’s a ‘plan’ doomed to fail.

What have you done lately to improve?

Here are a few things to do more of in the New Year that will improve your horse racing handicapping:

  • Watch more replays.
  • Be better prepared before the races start.
  • Look at some of the new/old handicapping software out there, e.g. DRF’s Formulator.
  • Be more adaptable to the race.
  • Avoid having the same type of bet for most races.

So many horse players think they are great handicappers.  Why is that? If everyone was so good, more favorites would win and the prices would be lower. Needless to say, that is not the case.

Ask yourself, what would you rate yourself as a horseplayer overall from a scale of 1 to 10 ?

There has been a study in regards to people rating themselves in the field they are in. The study has found that the best of the best in their field rates themselves around a 4.5 out of 10.  Why do you think they rate themselves so low?  It is because they never stop learning. If you rated yourself at 7 or higher, you may want to think again. One of my favorite lines is “What you don’t know, you don’t know?” Think about that line and understand why that is so powerful.

Be better in 2021.  Become a better handicapper.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

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Handicapping Tip of the Day #64 – Red Flags on Rag Tag

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

On a recent Wednesday card at Tampa Bay Downs (Dec. 9, 2020), the 2nd race of the day featured a nice field of maiden special weight runners going 6 1/2 furlongs.  The 3/2 morning line favorite in the race was the Eoin Harty-trained Rag Tag, a three year old who sported good form and superior numbers (speed figures, class ratings, BRIS Prime Power rating, etc.).  The well-bred colt from famed Calumet Farm also was coming in off a solid workout pattern.  What wasn’t there to like?

In Rag Tag’s case, quite a bit.  In his brief, nine-race career the colt had been beaten at short odds SIX times.  Three of those times he was the heavy favorite, as he was expected to be on this sunny Florida afternoon.

The most dangerous ‘Professional Maidens’ for chalk lovers (bettors who like to wager on favorites) are those that have numerous changes applied by their trainer(s) and continue to fail.  Rag Tag was a shining example:

  • He had raced at four different distances, from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.
  • He had tried the dirt, the turf, and the slop.
  • He had been ridden by six different jockeys, including top jocks Luis Saez and John Velasquez, Jr.
  • He had run with blinkers and without blinkers.
  • He had dropped in class and lost.
  • He had attempted five different racetracks.
  • He had never gained ground AND passed a horse in the stretch…ever.
  • Finally, he had raced for three different barns (Pletcher, Sisterson, and Harty)

All this in a 9-race career.  When the morning line favorite has been beaten, especially recently, at short odds, that is the first neon light to the handicapper to dig deeper.  Has this horse been in races where he or she should have won previously and didn’t?  When there is a lot of evidence pointing out that this horse is a hanger and lacks the will to win, it can open up a big opportunity for the horseplayer.  It doesn’t mean you’re going to pick the winner, but it does guarantee that you get extra value on your play(s).

Rag Tag went off at 70 cents on the dollar and was a closing 2nd to the lukewarm 2nd choice, a lightly raced Monmouth Park shipper.  He’ll got into his next race with a record of 10-0-5-1 and he’ll be heavily bet again.

Did you miss this Handicapping Tip of the Day?

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – the Fewer this the better…

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Best Way to Win a Horse Race? Mathematicians may have the answer

The best way to win a horse race? Mathematicians may have the answerAttention racehorse jockeys: Start fast, but save enough energy for a final kick. That’s the ideal strategy to win short-distance horse races, according to the first mathematical model to calculate how horses use up energy in races. The researchers say the approach could be used to identify customized pacing plans that, in theory, would optimize individual horses’ chances of winning.

Every racehorse has different capabilities. Like humans, some excel at sprinting, whereas others are marathoners. Figuring out which is which, and how to pace them, can be the difference between faltering in the final furlough and taking home the Kentucky Derby’s $1.3 million winner’s payout. Jockeys and trainers have traditionally relied on centuries of experience, data from previous races, and intuition to plan their races.

Amandine Aftalion, a mathematician at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, thought she could add to that. Since 2013, she has been analyzing the performances of world champion runners like sprinter Usain Bolt. She’s found that short-distance runners tend to win when they start strong and gradually slow down toward the finish line. But in medium-distance races, such as the 1600-meter, runners perform …

A Brief History of Horse Racing at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 63 – What makes a strong play?

Profit Risk Evaluation in Horse Racingby Glen S.

My recent blogs have talked about preparing for betting.  Today’s is all about taking advantage of the prep work that you have done.

You have watched the replays, you have handicapped the race card. At this point you should have a good feeling of the races to take a shot at or pass. One other thing to check would be are there any carryovers and, if so, what type of carryovers. Understand the difference between a good carryover and a jackpot carryover. which are more common nowadays.  A good carryover will be paid out that day.

My recommendation if it is a good carryover, start there with those races. Dead money always is in favor of the horseplayer, don’t miss out, but make sure you like the sequence.

Next step start with your strongest races you like, maybe a replay horse or a race with very few unknowns and then build around that race. If I am playing sequence bets, I need to have at least half of the races I like quite a bit. This doesn’t mean I have keys in every race, but does mean I have the max horses in the race I need.

If the bookends of your strongest race are terrible, then it might just be an individual race bet. If the carryover is big enough in the sequence, I will take a small chance and play the sequence.

What makes a strong play?

Here are a few key points I look for to give myself an advantage over the wagering public:
-Understanding race shape.  Fast pace?  Slow pace?
-A good replay that others might have missed.
-Vulnerable favorite that you think will get beat, but the public doesn’t and over bets that horse.
-Very few unknowns in the race, e.g. first time starters.

Always try and find that value, whether it is there because of a carryover, vulnerable favorite or your horse is paying higher than you thought.

Good luck and good racing.