Handicapping Tip of the Day #33 – Horse Racing’s Biggest Drop

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Dropping in class? Are you sure? There are many ways to try and determine if a horse is dropping in class. There is one way, in a given set of every day circumstances, to determine a class drop. And, make no mistake about it. It is the biggest drop in racing. Years ago one of my mentors told me to do one thing first when look at maiden claiming races. Find any horse that is dropping out of maiden special weights into a maiden claimer race.

Few horses that win stakes races or multiple allowance races begin their careers by winning their first race in a maiden claimer. Horses that run for the bigger money later on usually start where the purses are higher and that is not in the maiden claiming ranks. The most inviting class dropper is the one that ran in maiden special weights a few times, showed some talent such as some early speed or the ability to stay in contention, but now drops down for some class relief.   The maiden special weights to maiden claiming move is the most potent class drop in horse racing.   It is one of the easiest ways to find a way, sometimes at remarkably good prices.

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.

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.

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.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #26 – Recency & Claimers

Recency

by Art Parker, author of Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

When I was first learning to play the horses many decades ago, I was taught by a good friend to always consider recency. Something that is generally true with claiming horses, more so than allowance or stakes runners, is the need to have a recent race. My friend used a cut off of 45 DSLR (days since last race) for a claiming horse. Oddly enough, that eventually turned out to be the generally accepted time for a horse to be unraced and, hence, considered a “first time layoff” runner.

I pass on these types of claiming horses, who lack recent action, unless the runner goes for a trainer with a scorching hot first layoff record, which is another reason to keep good trainer records. To be successful at betting claimers it is important to distinguish between who “needs a race” and who is fit.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #23 – Watch for this Sneaky Trainer Move

Up in class, distance switch

by Art Parker

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

I know you have seen it so you should remember it. A horse comes off a layoff and runs opposite of its historical successful distances. The horse gets trounced in his return to battle but then shows up a short time later for another race. But this time the horse goes back to its successful distance and goes up in class. For most players this move is a world of trouble simply because of the increase in class.

When you are confronted with this, take the time to view the replay of the return race. Did it look like the horse was intentionally wide in the trip? Was the horse gunned to the front when it is not usually a speed horse? If something doesn’t look right it may be that the trainer was using the return race to tighten up the horse. The trainer may know his horse is close to being ready and just needed to get a race in his charge. One key is the short turn around. If a trainer thought his horse wasn’t ready after a return race then why hurry it back to the track?

Other things to look for in this situation is a positive jockey change or a change in equipment. Catching a good trainer with a slick move is hard to do. Remember, suspicion will not work for you unless…you are suspicious.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #25 – Eyes Right

The Most Underrated Number in the PPs

By Art Parker

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Those that have any military experience and have spent time at “drill” are familiar with a command given during a specific ceremony. During a parade when passing the reviewing stand (or something similar) the command of “Eyes right” is given so that the marching troops will momentarily look at those doing the review, usually a dignitary or high ranking officer.

West point marchers When handicapping races you need to do “Eyes right.”  In fact, eyes all the way to right. What is way over there? The number of horses in a race that is printed as a past performance. For example, when you read a specific running line, from left to right, a great deal of information is gathered, such as class, date of race, track, points of call, fractions, speed figure, etc. At the end of the running line you will see a final number and that states the number of horses in that race. This information can be critical.

Let’s say a horse shows a win in his last race at a $25,000 claiming level and he led the race at every call. Today he runs for the same price and his last race looks so impressive it easy to envision the horse as an easy winner at the same class. But upon further examination your eyes go right and see that the final number is 4. That means the field only had 4 runners and the winner only had to beat 3 others. An easy win, especially if the limited numbers of competitors had suspect class, or what if the winner was the only one with any early speed.

Another reason for “Eyes right” is that the larger the field the higher the probability of traffic trouble, especially in the turns. So often it is said the best horse in the Kentucky Derby doesn’t win, and I promise you traffic trouble is the number one reason why. If you look at a past performance line of any Derby you will see a big number to the far right. Pay close attention to the number in a field – command your eyes to go all the way to the right when handicapping.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #24 – Claiming Jail

Handicapping Tip of the Day – Understanding the Claiming Business

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By Art Parker

The most common race in North America is the claiming race. Without these horses we call “claimers” most every track could not fill a race card. Probably 80 percent of all our races are claiming events, whereby an entrant can be ‘claimed’ from the race for the stated purchase price by a party eligible to make a claim. The idea of claiming is to provide parity. If you own a horse that is truly worth $50,000 then you will think long and hard about entering that horse in a claiming race of only $25,000. The drop in in claiming price may make for an easy score with purse money but you may also lose an asset for a fraction of its value. One must understand the business of horse racing before they can understand the world of claiming races.

One of the most important things to remember about claiming races is the ‘jail time.’ While the rules vary from state to state, a claimed horse cannot run for the same or lesser claiming value within 30 days after being claimed. This is called “in jail” because the horse cannot run for a lower price until that horse is out of jail. In some states the horse cannot be removed from the state during the jail time, and in some states, the horse cannot run anywhere else until the end of the meeting. To be proficient at handicapping claiming races one needs to be up to date on the various rules in the various states.

When handicapping claiming races it is well worth the time to look at the horses from a business standpoint and play the game as an owner or trainer. Profitable revelations will often come to light when a business examination is made of the entrants in a claiming race.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #22 – The MTO

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Art Parker

Always take special note when you see the words “Main Track Only” next to the name of an entrant. This positioning is the action of the trainer and it simply means that if the race is taken off the turf then the horse is eligible to run in the field. If the race remains on the turf then the horse will be a scratch. There are several interpretations of this move but what you need to closely examine is the condition of the horse and the conditions of the race. If the horse appears to be in good shape and if the horse fits the conditions well, then pay closer attention.

Oftentimes this means that the trainer knows he has a runner ready to roll and this was the best race he could find. If things do not make sense, such as the runner has a terrible main track record or usually competes at a lower level, then the horse is probably in the race for a workout. Always give MTOs a closer look.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #21 – The Right Track Surface?

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By Art Parker

Are you sure of the surface of the upcoming race? A player must pay close attention to all races carded for the turf because sometimes one or more of the grass races will be moved to the main track. Races are taken off the turf for several reasons, usually due to excessive moisture on the course. A change of surface can affect everything when it comes to the handicapping process. All changes are usually announced several times and posted on the tote board and monitors. Yet many players see the word TURF in the conditions and they forget that things may have changed. Not all turf races are taken off the turf and this makes things more complicated.   For example, just this past weekend a race was taken off the turf at Gulfstream Park with only three minutes to post.  If a track has three races carded for the turf it may not change the surface on all of the turf races. This is when alertness is the best handicapping tool you have.