Breeders’ Cup Preparation – Part II

by Glen S.

Now that you have watched your replays and have some solid opinions on horses to either bet or bet against, it’s time to move on to the next step. Start looking at additional handicapping resources to get the extra info you may need.

Part II: More preparing for the Breeders Cup

Santa AnitaGood and bad information. Step one: understand the source you are getting this info from. Some information that is given out is simply an opinion. For example “Horse A should really take to the Santa Anita surface.” Why does this person think that – is it breeding, is it because he saw a race at another track with a similar surface or did the trainer mention to him that the training sessions have been good? I would only take that above statement if it was the last source.

At this point I wouldn’t listen to anyone’s selections. We know all the horses entered but what happens if one of them isn’t entered or scratched? Another speed horse doesn’t enter or gets scratched and now there is no pace to run it. Scenarios like this completely change the race shape.

What I would look at is how the horses got to where they are at now. Some runners needed to win the previous race to get in, while other runners would not be fully cranked. McKinzie, I am not sure if the horse was or was not fully cranked for his last race, but McKinzie didn’t need to win and get in.

There are many proven trends that show which horses do well at the Breeders Cup by going in certain races and which ones struggle. Get to know those trends. There is lots of information you can find about that. I follow the trends like this, a favorite should have strong trends (and few holes) before I would consider them. Longshot are longshots for a reason, there are always a few holes in them somewhere.  Find the positives you can grab on to.

Only one week to go, don’t get left behind in the research.

Do This Now for This Year’s Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders' Cup horse racingby Glen S.

The Breeders Cup is the best event in horse racing for the year round handicapper to hit the big one. The two days are in the advantage of the horse players that knows the game. However, if you are like all the other handicappers and do not prepare in advance, then there is simply no advantage for you come next weekend. So if you do not want to be like the others or the ones that just play the races a few times a year, keep reading.

How can I start to prepare so early, you ask? There are list of the main contenders throughout the various websites and many sites, including the Daily Racing Form (DRF) that have the expected entries. Print them off and start watching REPLAYS and more replays. The more you watch now, the less time you need later. Betptc.com has one of the best replay functions on the website, so why not take full advantage of it.

What to look for in a replay and what to take notes on:
-Was the horse compromised in the race, troubled trip, wide, no pace to run at, caught in a duel?

-Do not forget to make notes that might make the horse look better, lone speed, big pace to run at, perfect trip, etc.

When watching the horse racing replays, you do not need to know who the horse will be running against in the future.  It just gives you more information on the horse that many won’t take the time to see. Also if the horse is running against other horses in the upcoming race you will oftentimes see who is better based on the replay. Sometimes who beats who doesn’t tell the whole story, this is when you can hit that home run.

Monday Oct 21st is when the Breeders’ Cup pre-entries close and I would expect by Wednesday Oct 23rd you will be able to get a good idea of who is in. Now you can start figuring out the potential of each horse. I would avoid figuring out race shape but decide if the horse is a need-the-lead horse or a closer that needs pace to run at.

Monday Oct. 28th is when the post position draw is; I would expect by that evening you will be able to find what each race would look at. NOW start to figure out race shape.

Why prep now? The obvious reason, as mentioned, is get ahead of the competition and avoid so much work later. But even more importantly, avoid getting swayed but the media and all the hype. Let you be the judge first as to how talented you think the horse is and then listen to the others.

Part II preparing for the Breeders: Good info, bad info and how to use that to your advantage

Next post after the pre entries are up.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #49 – Why I Passed on $326,599 in Free Money

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

Tuesday night, September 10, 2019, featured a mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick-5 wager at Prairie Meadows.  This jackpot wager had been building for months and, with closing day on tap, it was time to pay it all out.  This equated to $326,599 in free money in the pool.  Those funds, plus whatever was wagered (minus the 15% takeout), would be distributed to all the winners.

Despite the slow Tuesday of racing, and the fact that Prairie Meadows had recently been hosting quarter horse racing instead of Thoroughbreds, it seemed like everyone knew about it.  Major ADWs were sending out emails.  People were posting all over social media.  It seemed like if you were a horseplayer, especially one who liked horizontal wagers, you were playing it.

I was among them and was planning to participate.  My first concern was the notice that Des Moines, Iowa and the racetrack had been pounded with rain overnight.  How that might affect the track, even though it figured to be dry by post time, was anyone’s guess.

The second and more important issue was the entries.  The fields were large and with not knowing the track very well, that gave me pause.  If I could find one or two standouts, or a couple of races where I could easily narrow the field down to, let’s say, two major players, then this could be an affordable ticket.

However, that was not the case.  I was having trouble narrowing down the contenders in all five races.  Consequently, this sequence looked like it could pay gangbusters.  Of course, that’s the type of Pick-5 I want to be a part of.  I went back through it again, looking to narrow the races down to even 4-5 plays in most races.  I found it very difficult, regardless of the 2.57% edge as indicated by expert Marshall Gramm.*

Pick-5 Cost

A 4 x 4 x 4 x 5  x 5 partwheel is 1,600 combinations.  With the large fields there were 62,370 possible combinations.   At the $.50 base wager, this type of ticket would cost $800.  This was more than I wanted to spend when I wasn’t confident I would hit.  If I was wrong in just one race, I was toast.

The wise decision was to pass despite the six figures of “free” money.   The winning combination ended up returning $1,737.05.  This was a generous payoff considering the results, but it was hardly a life-changing score.

Recognizing when the situation isn’t right for you and passing on the so-called opportunity is very important.  Another big carryover is right around the corner.

Best of luck!

 

*If you want to learn more about the game, follow Marshall’s tweets.

Record Pick 4 payout hit at Canterbury. Interview with Winner

On Friday [July 12, 2019 at Canterbury Park], the first three races in the Pick 4 were won by horses paying 6-1, 7-1 and 8-1 on a $2 win bet.

Joe Tartaglia, watching the races from his home, was thrilled. His Pick 4 ticket had all of the six horses in the final race on his ticket. So he was going to win. It was just a question of how much. Along with his horse-playing pals around the country, with whom he was keeping in touch on Twitter, Tartaglia hoped for the best.

He got it when Lieutenant Powell, a 21-1 longshot, rallied to win the race. The payout: $31,522.90.

Here’s the interview…

You Can Beat Saratoga

by Rich Nilsen

There are several facets of Saratoga that every handicapper should know, and there are some solid strategies that I recommend for beating the upcoming 2019 meet which begins earlier than ever this year, July 11, and runs through September 3.  If you apply these nine steps, you’ll be putting the percentages in your favor over 95 percent of the wagering public who have no game plan and approach each day at the Spa haphazardly.

 

Key # 1 – Understand How the Tracks Play

On most days the Saratoga main track plays very kindly to speed horses. It can be very difficult to make a wide move on the turn for home, sustain that run and get up for the win. The predominant speed bias, of course, is more prevalent the shorter the distance, but on many days, the tracks favors early speed or tactical speed in all of the dirt races.  For example, in 6 furlong races last year, 38% of the winners won gate-to-wire.  That’s a typical Saratoga meet where nearly 4 out of every 10 six furlong races are won on the front end.

On the Saratoga main track, making a three to four wide move around the far turn is very difficult for most runners to sustain.  Always be on the lookout for horses that suffer from that type of trip with the hopes of scoring with them at a price next time out. See Key #7 below.

In my opinion the two turf courses can be very inconsistent, especially from one year to the next. Just because the inner turf course favored speed and tactical speed in one mile races last year doesn’t mean that is going to happen this summer. In general, both turf courses give the edge to closers, but there are plenty of races and plenty of days when that is not the case.

ProfitWhether it is the weather or some other factor, the turf courses can suddenly begin to favor early speed and it is vital that the handicapper keeps their eyes open to this short-term bias that can last one week or more.  You can “make” your meet if you spot the turf bias early enough and capitalize.

Do beware of the inside posts in the 5 ½-furlong turf sprints. It is well known that the rail (one post) can perform very poorly in turf sprints. If the inside horses don’t break sharply and demonstrate good early speed, they can get shuffled back and subsequently boxed in during the cavalry charge to the turn.  As a result, middle posts are often the best draws in these swiftly-run, short races.

Tactical speed is also very important. One surprising trend three years ago was that closers fared remarkably well in these short turf sprints.  In fact, over half of the winners in 2016 were Pressers (mid-pack runners) or Sustained types (closers from the back.)  Watch closely in the first week or so to see how the turf sprints play.  It may not be what you expect.

Be alert because there is always a range of days at Saratoga when the speed bias not only disappears, but the track begins to strongly favor closers. This is one of the most important times of the meet for the serious player. Just like with the turf bias mentioned previously, if you catch on to this reverse bias early enough you could make your entire meet in a matter of a few days.  It will happen, because it seems to every year, so keep an eye out for it.

Understanding how these tracks play and staying alert for short-term changes to the predominant biases is critical for the Saratoga horseplayer.

The 9 Tips to Beating Saratoga by Rich Nilsen – click here to download

Other Handicapping Articles:

Horse for the Course

Horse Racing Odds Explained

copyright Agameofskill.comBetting on horse racing can be very threatening for people who don’t understand how all this operates and what all of these numbers mean, But once you’ve learned the basics of horse racing chances, it couldn’t be easier. If anything, it can be even easier to understand than other forms of sports betting due to transparency.

The two formats used are decimals and fractions when looking at the odds (price) of a horse. Betting exchanges operate in decimals while betting firms with fixed odds generally operate infringements.

It can be challenging to find out how horse racing bets work with complicated, ever-changing winning rates and various types of bets. As a result, how do you decide which horse to wager on and how much to win? In this simple guide, everything is revealed to understand betting odds for horses. And if you’re looking for tips for betting on horse racing, Winners Enclosure can give you some great advice.

How Do Odds Operate?

The second number always suggests the stake when determining the returns of a fractional bet, and the first number denotes what the profit will be if the bet wins.

Take an example of 4/1. If you’re staking …

R.I.P. Tim Conway, aka Jockey Lyle Dorf

The one-and-only Tim Conway passed away today at the age of 85.  He was best known for his role in the Carol Burnett television show, but for those of us in the horse racing industry, he was also jockey Lyle Dorf.  Here is his skit with Johnny Carson.

Here is a 1988 interview with track announcer Trevor Denman of Santa Anita.  Denman sits down for a conversation with comedian Tim Conway, a big fan of horse racing.  Conway gives a great tip for new fans at the 1:40 mark of the video.   Denman also provides some great insight that is the worth the listen for every horseplayer.

 

Industry Profile: Professional gambler Mike Maloney

A Richmond native who lives in Lexington, the 63-year-old Maloney has been studying horse racing since age 15. But he turned pro, so to speak, about 20 years ago, becoming a full-time horseplayer and leaving his business as a wholesale antiques dealer.

It’s a journey he chronicled in the 2017 book “Betting With An Edge,” which was co-authored by Peter Thomas Fornatale. Maloney has wagered as much as $12 million in a year at one point, and he says he has turned a profit each year.

“I was in my 30s before I ever began to consistently show a profit at the track,” Maloney said. “Then once that began to happen, I thought, ‘There’s a possibility here.’ … I haven’t had a negative year, but there are a lot of years where I’m not happy and I want to do better. Then there are some years that were really good. But it’s not a smooth ride. You know, it’s gambling, and you have to embrace it that way.”

“There’s plenty of 12-hour workdays,” Maloney said. “It’s a 70 to 80-hour workweek.”

Some may instinctively recoil. Others might believe he’s got the best job in the world.

But neither response does justice to how rare it is that Maloney has had the makeup to thrive full time in a profession that a select few could do — or would want to — with numbers that seemingly dwindle each year as the game grows more difficult.

“These days, the people betting the most money, it’s AI, it’s computers, it’s algorithms, stuff like that,” Fornatale said. “But for an individual, you can’t really name (anyone better). Other people I know who’ve been doing it for a comparable amount of time as Mike are, I think, more consciously phasing out as the market gets more efficient and the game gets tougher. He’s still there grinding away, and it’s the only job he’s had in nearly 20 years.

“He really is at the pinnacle. As far as I’m concerned, put him on the Mount Rushmore of horseplayers.”   Read the rest…

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 48 – A Horse for the Course

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

One of the best ways to find a value play in this game we call horse racing is to find the horse with clouded form.  For whatever reason or reasons, the horse had a legitimate excuse not to run well  in his last start or two.  Finding a legit excuse is not always easy, and the last thing a handicapper should be doing is inventing excuses to justify his or her preference for a horse.

A week ago at Parx Racing (Feb. 19, 2019), the veteran 10 year old runner Bowman’s Beast was returning to Parx off subpar efforts at  both Charles Town and Penn National.  He was well beaten at 3/5 odds last time out at basically the same level as today.  Of course, Charles Town is a step below Parx, so, on the surface, it didn’t look good for the old gelding.

However, there were three good reasons to throw out that dismal 4th place performance.  For starters, that last race was in the mud and Bowman had a career record of 11-1-1-1, showing 8 also-ran efforts.  He was clearly a better horse on fast going.

Also noteworthy was trainer Bernard Dunham’s record with beaten favorites.  According to BRIS data, he was a 57% winner from 7 starters in their subsequent races following a loss as the favorite.

Finally, and most important, Bowman was returning to Parx.   Here were the lifetime, tabulated records in his past performances:

Lifetime: 72-13-8-11, $453,590

Parx: 38-9-4-7, $331,260

Now subtract the two and you have a pretty revealing stat.  At tracks other than Parx, Bowman’s Beast was:

Elsewhere: 34-4-4-4, $122,330

The lifetime record for this 10 year old runner at Parx versus all other tracks was night and day.  Bowman could be expected to improve on the return to Parx, with the return to a fast track for a trainer dynamite with beaten favorites.

The morning line maker at Parx set his odds at 3/1, no doubt because of his familiarity with the Parx horse for the course, but Bowman went off at over 7-1 because of his clouded, recent form.  He cruised to victory, returning a generous $16.60 for his faithful backers.

 

Handicapping Tip of the Day #47 – 5 Ways to Conserve Wagering Funds

Handicapping Tip of the Day

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

One of the biggest challenges horse players face is the ability to manage their money and wager properly without losing focus.  Fail in any aspect of money management and the result is typically disastrous.  This year’s Cheltenham festival offers for new customers will keep you from failing to manage your funds correctly. Here are a few quick tips that will help you stay on track by conserving your wagering funds and not wasting bets on races you shouldn’t be playing.

  1. Stay Disciplined – Start with a defined bankroll for a set period of time and refuse to add to it.  ATMs and deposit options are out of the question.  Treat that money like an investment fund and work with it to turn a profit.  Have a game plan to start and stay disciplined in your wagering.
  2. Pick Your Spots – It’s alright to play every race if you have a small ‘Action Bankroll’ available.  You can use that to make bare minimum wagers if you lack discipline and absolutely have to have some action on a race.  However, the most important thing is to spot play and hammer those races accordingly.  Keep in mind that it’s simply impossible to have a good or strong opinion on every race. You have to pick your spots.
  3. Avoid Playing Out of Proportion – If your spot-play type of wager is $50 on a race, don’t play $200 on a race because you really love it for whatever reason.  Keep your best bet plays in proportion to one another, otherwise you risk damaging your bankroll and possibly even going on tilt.
  4. Choose Your Races Wisely – play to your strengths.  If conditioned claimers are not your thing, then avoid them at all costs.  If you excel at maiden turf races, then be sure to start with those races when you begin your handicapping for the day.  Choose your races wisely and your bankroll will be rewarded for it.
  5. Variance Happens – Understand that you’re not going to win every race, and worse yet, losing streaks are part of the game.  One of the best horseplayers in the country that I know has a stop limit.  If he loses a set amount of money, he stops for the day.  It’s a simple rule and he sticks to it, no matter what.  If it’s a good enough rule for a guy who successfully puts millions through the pari-mutuel windows every year, then it’s good enough for us.

Have You Missed These Handicapping Gems?

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