2018 Kentucky Oaks Thoughts According to Dew

by Justin Dew

It seems pretty clear that Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, both of whom’s names trigger my iPad to tell me that I misspelled a word, are going to be your favorite and co-favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. They’ve done impressive things on the racetrack, and bettors will wager on them accordingly. But the key to betting on any race is to find value, and I think there are reasons to take a stand against one of them while using the other with perhaps a bigger price in the exotics.

First, Midnight Bisou. My gut tells me she will be at her best around one turn. I realize she is a dual-graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles, but those wins came against questionable competition. And I’m also not a huge fan of taking a short price on a daughter of Midnight Lute at 9 furlongs shipping east for the first time, especially when I suspect she’ll try to come from behind. She’s good. But I don’t think this will be her best game.

Monomoy Girl confuses me a little. She has two wins coming from way back, and four other wins going wire-to-wire. My guess is she will be part of the Oaks pace, and the way she drew off in the Ashland suggests that she won’t have a problem with the additional 100 yards. The question with her is the price. She’ll be favored. Additionally, she won’t be able to coast alone like she did at Keeneland. So she’ll need to really be the best filly to win this, because I don’t see her stealing it.

As for who are the most logical alternatives, I think there are a few ways you can go. For one, I think it’s interesting that Kieran McLaughlin is pointing the very promising Sara Street to another race Derby weekend. Is that because he thinks Take Charge Paula has a big shot? And what about Coach Rocks, who just beat Take Charge Paula? Does she have another move forward in her? Or do we need to look to the Oaklawn and Fair Grounds preps? Or the Gazelle?

I can probably make an interesting case for five or six of the alternatives to the top two. And since I just don’t love either‘s chances, the key to cashing big on the Oaks, for me, is to figure out who is prime for her best effort at a big price.

Betting at Keeneland or on the Kentucky Derby? See what goes into setting the odds.

Man studying racing paper trackside before races.

Betting at Keeneland or on the Kentucky Derby? See what goes into setting the odds.

Lexington Herald Leader Full coverage

Source: Betting at Keeneland or on the Kentucky Derby? See what goes into setting the odds.

Who’s a 2018 Kentucky Derby Contender According to Dew

Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

by Justin Dew

Even though there are still four hugely important Kentucky Derby prep races to be run, I have already made some key decisions about my Derby Day wagering. That’s not to say I can’t go back and change my mind later. It’s possible that the upcoming prep races will change everything. But things are definitely starting to take shape.

Gulfstream Park horse toteThere is a 0% chance that Mendelssohn makes a prominent appearance on my tickets. I don’t care that he is related to Beholder, nor do I care that he allegedly earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure in winning the UAE Derby. That racetrack was a conveyor belt, and that race had to take a lot out of him. I think he will be over-bet based on the margin of victory and the track record time. If he is a freak of nature and runs huge in Louisville, then I will tip my cap and tear up my tickets. I am definitely glad that he is coming to America, and there is no doubt that he is a very exciting racehorse. I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d like to see the Coolmore people win the Kentucky Derby someday. But Mendelssohn is a bet against for me.

How much did we really learn about Audible from his Florida Derby win? I had him ranked very high before the race, and he certainly did not disappoint. But with the insane early pace, and with Catholic Boy apparently bleeding, he almost had no choice but to win. I am clearly not going to fault him for winning, but we can expect to see much lower odds in the Kentucky Derby based on how visually impressive he was in the Florida Derby. Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

And speaking of the Florida Derby, if Hofburg runs in the Kentucky Derby, I have a strange feeling he is going to become the wiseguy horse. Everyone will start talking about how he will love a mile and a quarter and is just learning what the racing game is all about, and how Bill Mott is the greatest trainer in history and blah blah blah. But just like Audible, Hofburg benefited from the blazing early fractions and passed a bunch of horses that were stopping and/or bleeding. I actually thought Mississippi ran a fantastic race, but I don’t think he will have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It sounds like Promises Fulfilled will continue on to Louisville, where I see him finishing somewhere between ninth and 16th.

Perhaps the most significant Kentucky Derby development this weekend was the announcement that McKinzie is injured and will miss his start in the Santa Anita Derby. I’ll have more to say about him later this week, but suffice it to say I was looking forward to betting against him in Kentucky also.

There are a few horses who have already made their final prep that I would like to discuss. Noble Indy doesn’t do it for me, and based on what I’m reading he doesn’t do it for many other people either. I have a feeling Jon Velazquez will end up on Audible instead of this guy. Bravazo is interesting to me. Let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. And Runaway Ghost didn’t look like a horse who will have trouble with the Derby distance when he won at Sunland. I can see him closing late for a big piece of the Derby pie.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich NilsenLots to look forward to this weekend. It seems as if the Blue Grass Stakes is shaping up as an absolute battle. And it will feature the horse who I think is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Derby.

 

— Editor’s Note: I got to know Justin Dew (left) when he was the official blogger for the very official Kentucky Derby website.  He’s an amazing father and fantastic gambler.  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  Welcome aboard, Justin!

 

Interview with Garett Skiba, Elite Contest Player and OptixEQ User

Meet Garett Skiba, an elite handicapper and contest player with the most six-figure cashes in handicapping contests over the last two-plus years. He most recently took home third place in the 2018 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) tournament in Las Vegas, netting $125,000. We asked him to discuss OptixEQ and how he incorporates its products into his own handicapping process. 

 

Optix (O): When did you first start following horseracing? And what is your proudest achievement as a horseplayer?

Garett Skiba (GS): I started playing the races with my dad, going to simulcasting outlets at Balmoral Park and to live racing at Sportsman’s Park and Hawthorne. As a horseplayer, my proudest achievement is having won more than $650,000 in contests.

 

O: What kind of player are you and how often do you play? For example, do you follow just one circuit? Do you just play tournaments, etc.?

GS: I will focus primarily on Kentucky Downs, Belmont, Saratoga, Keeneland, and Gulfstream. I will typically play intensively one to two days a week, and then, for three or four days a week, I will look for spot plays.

 

O: What kind of handicapper are you, and which types of bets favor your style?

GS: Historically, I have been a handicapper who has looked for hot pace scenarios that would favor horses with perceived “weak form” who would benefit from a pace collapse. Optix has been a valuable tool in broadening my approach to the overall pace picture.

 

O: How long have you been using OptixEQ and what brought you to try our handicapping platform?

GS: I have been on Optix for about two years. My interest was brought on by a willingness to try new products and always tweaking my style/approach in order to better understand the game. 

 

O: Describe how OptixEQ has enhanced (or added to) your game?

GS: As mentioned previously, the product has improved my understanding of the pace picture. Additionally, OptixNOTES have been a fantastic way to explain away poor races by horses who are being overlooked on the board.

 

O: Over the past two years, OptixEQ users have been finishing very well in tournaments. What advice do you have for users who are new to the platform?

GS: I would highly recommend learning about all aspects of Optix and also take the time to review historical races. I wouldn’t recommend playing either OptixPLOT or OptixNOTES alone, but rather use them as tools to support/contract your entire picture/opinion of the race. It is not meant to be a prediction engine!

 

O: What would you like to see integrated into the platform to further enhance the product?

GS: Personally, I would like more control as it relates to the pace lines driving the OptixPLOT, or at the very least, visibility as to which line is driving what we are seeing.

Win More with Horse Race Bet Strategies

Guest Post

Horse racing boasts one of the biggest sports betting markets in the world, and this can only mean that bettors all levels of experience have certain strategies in place that see them winning more when they wager.

Whether you are a casual bettor who enjoys a range of online gambling activities, from horse racing betting to real money pokies play, there are systems which can make sure that you see more returns at the end of the day. Here are a few of the most effect horse race bet strategies for you to experiment with when the next big race day comes around.

 

Premier 2yos at Del Mar, SaratogaThe Recent Winner Strategy 

This master plan has you checking out the horses which have recently won a race. These will be strong contenders for the races following, and will be on top form. These horses are often submitted in order to avoid handicapping penalties, and frequently gain momentum once they have reached their prime.

 

Statistical Lays in Horse Betting 

Laying a horse in the sports betting market has bettors wagering against a runner. After you choose a suitable race, the next step of this grand design has you identifying the three favorites for the race, and then analyzing their odds.

After you have chosen the top three places for the upcoming race, you will then pick the runner that has odds of between 3.0 and 5.8, or 2/1 and 4.8/1, and then lay against the animal with the least chance of taking first place.

Implementing this could see you succeeding as much as 80% of the time.

 

The Dutching Game Plan 

For the more mathematically inclined among us, a very successful horse racing betting plan of action known as the Dutching Method may be a good one to try.

The outline of this plan of action states that, when you wager on a selection of horses, you will be cashing out with the same payout in all instances, no matter which one wins. Achieving this result, however, does requires some essential calculations. While they may initially seem rather complicated, they are in fact quite easy to accomplish, and bet calculators found online will help you with the Dutching Plan.

Enter the total amount you would like to stake, and the betting odds for reach of your selections. The advised amount to place on each of your wagers and the profit you could possible see will instantly be updated.

The Dutching Scheme has you first locating a race with preferably more than ten runners. You will then need to choose two of the Top Three ranked horses, with good odds, and then you can start working out what the implied probabilities are from these odds.

 

The Horse and Jockey Partnership 

This horse betting approach works on the horse which ranked second in its last race. The jockey who rode the horse that day was doing so for the first time, and so the next appearance of this duo will mark their second together.

The advantage of this strategy is that the jockey will now be familiar with and to the horse, the manner in which it performs in races, and the weaknesses and strengths the animal has. The increased experience with the animal in question will enable the jockey to adapt more quickly to events occurring in the second race. Additionally, the jockey will be 100% aware of what went wrong the first time, and will bring significant improvements into this appearance.

 

Handicapping Step-by-Step, A Beginner’s Guide

Guest Post

Follow these simple steps and watch your returns increase with the next horse race you bet on.  Find out, with an easy to follow step-by-step guide, how to start handicapping for better bets. Even experienced players may enjoy coming in at a new angle!

 

  1. Read Past Performances 

The first step is your learning how to read past performances.

A quick search on how to do this properly online will give you some explanations to help you get started. This step is a good one for all types of betting online -if you frequently enjoy no deposit bingo sites, for example, analysing your past results will help you predict future returns more accurately.

 

  1. Handicap the Race 

Now you will start handicapping the race, which essentially has you projecting or predicting its outcome.

Identify the contenders, eliminate the pretenders, and make these choices more easily thanks to the information on past performances you have gathered. These aspects include:

 

  • Class

This is used to evaluate one horse’s ability over another, and you judge a horse’s class by looking at their performance over various competition levels. Class is easiest to judge in stake races, and you simply eliminate those who are not at the class level of the race you want to bet on.

 

  • Speed Figures

These judge the horse’s speed, and you will need to compare the final times of the races a particular horse has won. You will then locate the speed figures assigned to the horse for each of these races, easily accessed online, and average out the last three or four speed figures to gain a more accurate measurement. Eliminate horses that are obviously not fast enough.

 

  • Recent Form

This determines a horse’s degree of readiness to compete and overall fitness. Just like other athletes, horses get tired, experience slumps, get injured, or simply check out. Judging a horse’s form cycle can be tricky, but if the animal has performed well in the last two or three races it has run in, you can assume its form is good. Eliminate those who are not in good form.

 

  • Pace Scenario

This is used to find out how the race will be run, determining which running style will enjoy an advantage. If the speed of the race, the pace, is too fast, mid-pack and come-from-behind horses, closers, will enjoy an advantage. If the pace is slow, front-running animals and stalkers will benefit. Eliminate all the horses that are disadvantaged because of the race’s pace scenario.

 

  1. Analyse Winning Horses’ Trips 

After you have ruled out the horses you feel sure don’t stand a chance, it is important that you get the video footage of the winners’ performances and analyse these in detail. Doing this is easy, just create an online betting account that provides its players with free replays.

 

  1. Make Your Bet 

Now its time to wager. Don’t bet on underlays, or horses that have odds lower than their chances of winning. Over the long run you will fare better wagering on horses that give you fair odds, or those that are overlays and have odds higher than they should be.

 

There are Many Options 

If you gathered 100 handicappers and asked them how to handicap, you would receive 100 different methods. This is just one way, written so as not to overwhelm bettors who are just starting out. Give these steps a good try, and make a note of whether you find your returns improving.

Understanding Handicaps in Horse Racing

by International Correspondent (UK)

A handicap horse race is defined as a method by which, or a race in which, every horse is made to finish as close as is possible to one another, in an effort to ensure that the races remain as competitive as possible. Horses that run in handicaps do so off of differing weights, with these specifically designed in order to ensure that each animal has an equal chance of winning. Those who study form will understand why handicapping is important, and how it can affect the outcome of a race.

 

Man studying racing paper trackside before races.

Handicapping in Action

Horse 1 is rated at a handicap of 70, and he is the best racing horse taking part in the contest, with the finest form and the highest level of ability. Horse 2 is rated at 60. He is an average horse, with some ability to perform, but not as good as Horse 1.

We know that Horse 1 is very likely to beat Horse 2 if they run off of the same weight, thanks to Horse 1 being rated as a better animal. Therefore, in a handicap, Horse 1 will need to make a concession to Horse 2 in order to make the event a more competitive one.

In this example, Horse 1 will be required to carry more weight during the race than Horse 1 will. This, theoretically, evens the chances each horse has going in of winning, and makes their respective chances of coming first much closer. Of course, as is the case of any kind of risk, including that posed by the super slots NZ has to offer, this is not always how things work out. This is why betting on these competitions is possible, and as enjoyable as it is.

 

Who is In Charge of Determining Handicaps? 

This will depend on which country the horse and its owner reside in, with the United Kingdom falling under the jurisdiction of the British Horseracing Authority, or BHA. Their work is to watch each horse and assess the animal’s level of ability. If Horse 1 beats Horse 2 in three races, it is possible for the handicapper to safely deduce that Horse 1 is better than Horse 2, and the latter will then receive a rating lower than the former. Thus, when the animals next meet in a handicap, the gulf in the ability of each will be evened out.

 

How Do Horses Get Handicap Marks

There are very important rules in place that govern how and when a horse receives its handicap mark. The most important two are:

  1. If a horse manages to win a race, it will receive an official rating
  2. If a horse finishes three times, regardless of what position it may finish in, it will receive an official rating

Interestingly, the handicapper retains the right to refuse to give a horse a handicap mark. If a horse has finished tailed off in its first three starts, for example, it is not possible for the handicapper to form a fair assessment of that animal’s ability. In all cases, however, the handicapper will give a horse a rating that is based on the best form that it has shown up to that date.

 

Overcoming Yourself

A Plan for a Day at the Horse Races

by Rich Nilsen

You’ve arrived at the feature race, and you’re down $180 for the day. Mentally, you are frustrated from having played every race on the card, losing two costly photo finishes, and having wagered on a “too good to be true” favorite who still hasn’t finished. You’ve narrowed the feature race down to two solid horses, but lack of conviction and failure to have a positive mindset is playing havoc on your decision making.

Lookin’ Good is the favorite at 2-to-1, and Darkened Form is an enticing wager at 6-to-1. In a moment of indecision, you glance at the past performances again in hopes of finally separating the two selections. Noticing the company line from three races back, you see that Lookin’ Good defeated Darkened Form by five widening lengths. You quickly scan your eyes to the closest monitor to see that there’s only two minutes to post, meanwhile, failing to notice that Darkened Form fell on his face at the start of that particular race. The rushed decision is finalized. Your remaining $20 is played as $10 to win on Lookin’ Good and a $10 straight exacta Lookin’ Good over Darkened Form.

horses racingYou return to your seat with zero minutes to post, grasping the tickets in your hands and praying for your luck to turn around. Darkened Form breaks to a clean lead as Lookin’ Good gets shuffled back into fifth. Your second selection continues on an uncontested lead while Lookin’ Good begins to weave his way through traffic. The favorite gets stopped behind a wall of horses as Darkened Form leads the field to the top of the stretch. You realized that your worst nightmare is coming true, as the 6-1 shot opens an insurmountable lead past the eighth pole. The favorite finally gets clear and closes with a tremendous rush. The rally falls a length short of Darkened Form, who scores at juicy dds.

You wanted to stay for the last race on the card, but you’re tapped out. On your way out, you see from the monitors that Darkened Form returned $15.40 to win and the “reverse” exacta returned $42.20. Then you recall what your good friend, a disciple of proper money management, would have done in this scenario. He would have used the $20 as follows: wager $10 to win on the longer priced horse, and box a $5 exacta with the two runners. Such a bet would have returned $182.50, covering your losses for the day.

This scenario is repeated numerous times a day at every betting facility in the country and every online wagering platform. The bettor encounters a race in which he or she does not know what they will do. This is the root of many handicappers’ problems. When a betting situation occurs, they either do not know what to do, or they let recent failures dictate their wager. The result is usually devastating to the struggling horseplayer.

Do you know what you would do in a particular situation? Having a betting plan puts you far ahead of the general public. Many handicappers do not think that they have a problem with betting scenarios, but they will end up wagering on similar situations completely different.

The wagering menu available may also dictate their bets. What normally would be a win and exacta box bet becomes a trifecta bet with the “chance” at a bigger payoff. The win and exacta are forgotten. The top selection wins but the other plays fail to complete the trifecta.

Does any of this sound familiar? How often has it occurred to you that the way you bet caused you to lose the race? Every handicapper has made this mistake. Some just continue to make it everyday.

For players who feel a change is required, let’s go through the steps required to become a better bettor.

 

STEP ONE: Determine Your Level of Risk – Exactly what kind of bettor are you? Are you a $2 win bettor, a $50 win bettor, a $100 multi-race exotics player, or a combination? Know what you are and stick to it.

STEP TWO: Build a Bankroll – The answer to the first step determines the size of your bankroll. The amount you wager on a daily basis, e.g. $200, should be about 5% of your bankroll, which, in this example, would be $4,000.

STEP THREE: Discipline – Avoid spreading your daily bankroll across 10 races. Spot playing does not have to mean one bet per week. Spot playing can be $200 wagered, in aggregate, on your two or three best races of the day.

STEP FOUR: Conviction – If you have to spread your bets too thin, a common occurrence for many at the track, then the wager is not worth making. Conviction results in smart bets with the prospect of a profitable return.

STEP FIVE: Strategy – The theme of this article. You need to predetermine the type of bets you will make depending on the scenario. Nothing needs to be written in stone, but guidelines do need to be decided upon beforehand.

If you have a solid selection in the second race, are you going to play the daily double and for how much? How much will you wager on your second race selection? If there are two horses you figure can run second to your top selection, how will you play the exacta? Of course, there are hundreds of scenarios, depending on your selections and the types of wagers offered. Make a conscious decision to predetermine the type of bets you will make. Be consistent and good luck!

 

  • Rich Nilsen is the founder of AGameofSkill.com. He will be making his 14th trip to the NHC next month.

Start Making Better Bets on Horse Racing Handicaps

Guest Post: International Correspondent

There are a number of factors that go into horse racing handicap betting. Investigating these will ensure that your wagers start making better returns. 

How to Bet Horse Racing Handicaps And Win 

Handicap betting can be difficult for punters who enjoy horse racing, since the percentage of winning favourites is far lower in handicaps that it on other grade races. The reason for this is quite simple: it is harder to find the winner of a handicap.

The head of the British Horseracing Authority handicapping service once stated that it could take him around 45 minutes to solve a single handicap – punters looking for a good tip should be spending at least as long doing the same! However, with time being as precious a resource as it is, we have collected together some handy tips to make it easier to choose your runner more quickly.

Keep an Eye Out for Alternatives to the Favourites 

As those who enjoy the services of online gambling casino sites will quickly tell you, blindly backing any outcome is not going to serve you, and this is particularly true when it comes to betting on horse racing handicaps.

Favourites do not perform that well in the company of handicaps, and you need to take that it into account. Look elsewhere in handicaps in order to ensure you get the value you require, with value being a key word when it comes to this kind of racing. Punters frequently overlook penalties in favour of a win next to an animal’s name, and this can be very misleading. If a horse has not managed to win for a while, it could be because it is starting to be well-handicapped.

Start at the Last Winning Mark 

A good place to begin when reviewing a handicap is discovering which mark each of the horses last won off of. If there is an exposed horse who has never won above 70, but stands at 73 for its current rating, that is a negative, and probably one that should be set aside. If a horse has a rating of 67 but its last winning mark was 76, this could be one to warrant your interest. Of course, it is vital that you do not assume that every one of the horses below its winning mark will automatically win, and that every horse above it cannot, since there will always be exceptions. But, as a general rule, it will pay off better if you take these factors into account.

How Has the Horse Been Running?

 Taking into account a horse’s running style in the races it has taken part in previously is very important. If the animal has been held up on the last few starts it has made but normally manages to win when prominent, this is something you will need to consider. Horses that make use of different tactics to those usually in place are interesting too. Are connections putting something else into place? Is the horse being weighted in order to help it win? Similarly, if a horse enjoys being buried in mid-diversion and delivered late, but it has lately been front-running, this is something that you may want to investigate more deeply.

Horse Handicappers Keep the Races Enjoyable to Watch!

Guest Post: International Correspondent

The handicapping for horses takes into account the ability of each animal, and places it into a Class. This ensures that the horses are evenly matched.

How Horse Handicaps are Structured

There is an extremely well established programme in place for handicap horses, both over jumps and on flats. Handicaps are contested by both the best and worst horses in the country, and, as a result, are split into a range of classes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, with Class 1 being the best and Class 7 being the worst. This makes working out odds easier, and benefits everyone on the track and off.

The Reason Handicaps are Split Into Classes

Handicaps are split in this way so that horses of similar ability levels contest one another in the races. For example, a Class 7 handicap will only be open to horses that have been rated 0 – 50, which will exclude those rated 51 and higher. This ensures that the handicap is competitive, and sees horses of similar ability competing against one another. There are variations in the Class system as to the grade of horse that can compete, too. For example, in Class 5 company, some handicaps may be set at 0 – 65, others at 0 – 70.

 What Happens When Horses Improve

 If you enjoy playing the online pokies NZ has to offer, you will often find that, as you get better at playing one type of game, you will broaden your horizons and investigate other types in order to find those that remain challenging as well as fun. Similarly, if a horse improves hugely and starts winning a number of races, the handicapper will raise that horse’s rating in order to see it facing tougher opposition. If a horse wins twice in the company of Class 6 animals, the handicapper will want to make sure that it faces Class 5 company or better on its next start.

Winning Penalties in Place to Factor in Reassessment

Handicappers at the British Horseracing Authority, for example, re-evaluate horse handicap marks each Tuesday, which creates the need for a winning penalty to be in place. If a horse wins a race on a Wednesday, it will not be due to for reassessment for another six days, which could allow it to continue racing and winning off of the same mark in the meantime.

It is for this reason that standardised penalties are in place for winning races: 6lbs on the flat, and 7lbs over the jump.

This rule applies to nearly all races, and makes sure that horses are not able to abuse the handicap system. A horse may well see so much improvement that it can win twice in the same week, with penalties totalling 12 lbs, before a handicapper has the chance to reassess it.

Handicapping Ensures Horses are Evenly Matched

This handicapping is what ensures that horses are equally matched when it comes to racing, and that the outcomes that punters, owners, trainers, jockeys, and spectators see are those that are reflective of its ability to run against animals of a similar overall capacity. Seeing a horse of astounding ability compete against one without any would not be very enjoyable, and handicapping in this method sees the sport remain an exciting one to watch.