AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Feb. 1

track announcer with binocularsCheck out our AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for Agameofskill.com visitors

GULFSTREAM PARK

PARTNER’S HOPE (Race 2 at Gulfstream Park, Jan. 23, 2021) – This was a live longshot tabbed by my buddy Justin Dew over at LoneSpeed.com.  Unfortunately, the 11-1 shot was ridden by Corey Lanerie, who gives more bad rides than a 10lb bug boy.  The maiden runner began to make a huge move heading into the far turn when Lanerie rode him up on the heels of a horse, causing a hard steady and loss of 2-3 lengths in precious momentum.  He re-rallied on the inside down the lane was only beaten over  a length for all the money.  Look for this More Than Ready colt on the dirt or turf with – hopefully – a different rider up next time.

TWICE TOO MANY (Race 6 at Gulfstream Park, Jan. 28, 2021) – This well bred first time starter from the Bryan Lynch barn was bet down to 4/5 after the late scratch of the favorite.  The 3yo son of the speedy The Big Beast is bred to win early.  He’s a half a millionaire Patternrecognition, along with several other early winners.  In his debut here he broke in 4th and then moved up between horses on the far turn but the winner for Mark Casse ran away from the field.  He’ll move forward off this start and win soon for Lynch.

OAKLAWN PARK

HIDDEN SCROLL (Race 7 at Oaklawn Park, Jan. 24, 2021) – This ‘over hyped’ runner who has simply never lived up to the reputation that he garnered early in his career.  However, over the winter he moved into the barn of potent trainer Brad Cox, who as we say ‘has the Midas touch.”  He returned in a 6 furlong allowance race in the mud and had a less than ideal trip.  He was shuffled back early and then steadied briefly on the backstretch, all the time with the jock half standing up in the irons.  His feet were on the dashboard, indicating his mount was loaded for bear.  When asked, Hidden Scroll swept up 5 wide on the turn and then cruised  to an easy score.  Next up a return to stakes company.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

SUCCESSFUL LEGACY (Race 3 at Tampa Bay, Jan. 9, 2021) – 3yo filly making third lifetime start and only 2nd on the dirt looked like a winner in deep stretch but was run down by her stablemate.  Gerald Bennett runner can dirt or turf.

JOE MAN JOE ( (Race 6 at Tampa Bay, Jan. 9, 2021) – The son of Uncle Mo closed like a freight train in his maiden breaking win at Tampa early in the meet, and then came back here to run a very nice 2nd on the turf behind a well meant Michael Trombettea runner that shipped up from Gulfstream Park.    Figures tough at 1x level on dirt or turf next out.

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

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

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Handicapping Tip of the Day #59 – The Off the Turf Bomber

Look for These Attributes for an Off-the-turf Winner

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

This is the story of how I gave my buddies a 27-1 winner that won for fun, and I think they wagered a total of $10 on her.

A few weeks back I picked up my Brisnet Past Performances for the 8th race at Gulfstream Park, an off-the-turf claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.  First thing I did was look at the MTO (Main Track Only) runner who had drawn into the field and was now the favorite. The four year old filly had so-so early speed and just struck me as a one-paced runner, the type that makes a slow, steady late run that isn’t going to win many races…especially at Gulfstream Park.  She also showed declining speed figures for her 9% trainer.

Immediately, I was interested in who might be able to beat this vulnerable favorite.  The #2, 5, and 12 were all turf runners that had no show little-to-no ability on the main track.  Toss.

That left only the #4, 6, 11, and 13.  The #11 was a terribly slow horse for a bad trainer.  Easy toss.   The #4 had won a maiden $10,000 claimer at Tampa and this was a $25,000 2-life at Gulfstream.   She looked slow and outclassed for this level in South Florida.

That left only two possibilities if I was going to play this race.  The #6 Just A Bit Sassy had run twice on the dirt and had placed twice both times while earning decent figures.  However, she was beaten a total of 18 lengths and had failed to show much early speed.  She was being heavily bet as the second choice and I felt the risk/reward wasn’t there.

#13 Lilo’s Call, on the other hand, had gone wire to wire in her maiden win first time out at Laurel last March.  Off that start she ran a lackluster 6th on the turf (toss).  She was then well beaten in her next two starts in tough allowance races and one of those starts came in the slop.  I only needed to forgive her last start in order to make her a play.

Sometimes you just have to forgive a bad last race for no reason.  Today,  the daughter of Drosselmeyer was making her first start for her new trainer, a low profile but solid 21% trainer John Collins.  She had three solid works for the new barn, a very positive sign that she might revert to her prior good form.  Lilo’s Call was bred to love the distance and dirt, and she was already a proven, front-running winner in a one-turn mile race.  Went I looked at the toteboard on BetPTC.com I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was 40-1.

I’m a privileged member of the LoneSpeed.com text thread, a select group of really good handicappers.  The small group of six includes superstar handicapper Dylan Donnelly (currently #1 on the NHC Tour) and wanna-be star Justin Dew.

It was 6 minutes to post and I texted my buddies about a longshot that I thought had a big shot.  Radio silence.

They broke from the gate and Lilo’s Call moved up into a perfect stalking position in third, just off the early pace setters.  At the 3/8th pole Miguel Vasquez asked and Lilo responded, cruising to the front.  From there she took command and then proceeded to just run the rest of her rivals off their feet.  She hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front.   The MTO favorite plodded along in second.  My phone exploded.

Chart of a longshot off the turf winner

copyright 2020 Equibase.com and Brisnet

The filly paid $57.20 win.  The congrats came in via the text thread, and double NHC qualifer Dew acknowledged that he had a few bucks on her.

Overlays like this aren’t easy to come by.  When you handicap an off the turf race, look for a horse that is proven on the dirt or has an excellent dirt pedigree.  Give the edge to runners with good early speed or strong tactical speed.  Couple that with an angle or two that makes sense, and you have the icing on the cake.   Best of luck!

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – May 31

AGOS Free Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com.  Put these runners in your stable mail notification service.

GULFSTREAM  PARK

PLEASANT ORB (Race 10 stakes @Gulfstream, May 15, 2020) – Another bonehead ride from Jersey Joe Bravo.  He ran this 3yo daughter of Orb right up on the heels of horses on the far turn, causing her to steady and lose precious momentum.  She altered course, swinging out but her finish was too late.

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

PALACES DIAMOND (Race 4 @TAM, May 20, 2020) – 2nd time starter finished well against the grain of the track that was kind to early speed.  It was also her first start in a couple of months, so she can move forward and into the winner’s circle next out.

CELESTIAL ORB (Race 8 @TAM, May 27, 2020) – This was the lone dirt sprint on the card, which is kind of unusual at Tampa or any track.  This 3yo filly got off to a rough start and raced wide but rallied well into the prevailing bias to get up for 2nd.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – May 21

AGOS Free Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com.  Put these runners in your stable mail service.

 

Golden gate turf breakGOLDEN GATE FIELDS

LIVE IT WELL (Race 7 @Golden Gate, May 14, 2020) – strange ride from one of the top local jockeys, Frankie Alvarado.  She was blocked inside and never really given the chance to run her best. Alvarado gave her a 10lb bug boy ride.   Vronsky filly loves the grass and can win back in a similar spot.

FRENCH TUDOR (Race 8 @Golden Gate, May 14, 2020) – this debut runner was looking to make it three firsters in a row for  trainer Sherrie Monroe and DP Racing.  She made a strong, steady run after breaking from the far outside 10 post and just missed getting up for third in a sneaky good performance.   This was a pretty competitive field won by a Ron Ellis firster.

Art Parker’s look at what horse racing can do during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

GULFSTREAM PARK

CHARMAINE’S MIA (Race 10 at GP, May 8, 2020) – The Factor filly ran a really strong 2nd to R Happy Ending, the logical winner of this race for Baxter.  Edgar Zayas, who rode her to her last win at 12-1, was aboard.  Fits at optional 2x, $50,000 claiming level sprinting.  Prefers 5f.

 

SANTA ANITA

OH MARVELOUS ME (Race 6 @Santa Anita, May 15, 2020) – Finished strong in first start for Mark Glatt barn to get up and defeat a competitive field of $25,000 claimers.  Emerald Downs stakes winner has some back class.

 

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

PREPARE FOR GLORY (Race 7 @Tampa, May 9, 2020).  This first time starter from a 0% debut barn drew the rail to boot, which is very tough on a debut runner in general.  The 3yo gelding closed sneaky well for third behind the top 2 betting choices that laid over this field.  Can move forward off this for sharp Jordan Blair outfit.

LIL B QUICK (Race 5 @Tampa, May 9, 2020) – 5yo mare figured to be tough in this $6,250 open claimer but she suffered a trip with multiple excuses.  Managed to get 4th in a sneaky good performance.  Watch back.

Handicapping Tip #52 – Prepare for the 2yos

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – April 23

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com

GULFSTREAM PARK

COWTOWN (Race 10 at Gulfstream Park, 4/17/2020) – First time turf runner overcame a brutal trip to storm home late as a better-than-it looks winner in the finale.  The son of Tonalist was in traffic throughout, was knocked off stride down the lane, but quickly recovered to burst home in the final furlong.

EAGLES PALACE (Race 10 at Gulfstream Park, 4/17/2020) – Another first time turf runner from the same race as winner Cowtown.  This colt was bumped hard around the first turn.  Around the final turn he was blocked and steadied.  Recovered to rally wide but flattened out late.  Can improve off that effort for trainer Bill Mott.

Did you read Handicapping Tip #53 – Love Them Before You Bet Them.

OAKLAWN PARK

FLAGSTAFF (Race 8 at Oaklawn Park, 4/18/2020) – This guy broke awkwardly, spotting the field 2-3 lengths.  Was trailing the field early on and was actually steadied briefly at the 5/8th pole, further compromising any chance of winning.  Despite that, Flagstaff absolutely blew by the field down the stretch and just missing catching up with 3x Count Fleet Sprint winner Whitmore at the wire.  Impressive performance in defeat.

HOROLOGIST (Race 10 at Oaklawn Park, 4/18/2020) – The 2019 Monmouth Oaks winner wasn’t going to win the G1 Apple Blossom but she lost all chance when rallied into a wall of horses at the top of the lane. From there she had no where to run and actually finished sneaky well to end up in the front half of the field.  Could be a sneaky play next out in the right spot.

50 Cents Pick-5 Pays $525,000 at Gulfstream Park

A bettor who put down 50 cents on an early Pick 5 Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida won nearly $525,000 after three of the five winners were severe longshots. Fans weren’t in attendance Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida, but one remote bettor was made a very wealthy […]

Saturday’s massive win was the fifth-highest Pick 5 win in North America history. That’s according to Ed DeRosa of brisnet.com, a horseracing information network owned by Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

The record Pick 5 payoff was for $889,726.15 when someone hit the jackpot on August 9, 2013, at Louisiana Downs,” DeRosa said. “The record non-jackpot Pick 5 payoff was $620,827.87 on 2018 @kentuckyderby day. Four people hit that.”

A pick five wager requires selecting the winners of five consecutive races to hit the jackpot.

“Winnings on Pick Five bets are determined by the parimutuel system where all the winning tickets share the pool of money collected (less the money the track takes as commission),” Bet America explains.

As for Saturday’s fortunate customer, his $524,966.20 win on a $0.50 wager equates to traditional sports betting odds of 1,050,000/1.

Kentucky Derby | Triple Crown Watch – The Florida Derby

Betting favorite Tiz The Law dominated in the 2020 Florida Derby in front of no fans last Saturday.  Three runners went very wide around the first turn, including #9 Independence Hall.  Fountain Of Youth winner Et Indien was washed out badly pre-race.  H got over quickly from his outside post but dueled throughout with the eventual runner-up.  He was game to hang on for third in front of my top pick, Governeur Morris, who made a wide run turning for home.  If the latter gets up for second, I win an NHC berth, but alas, thanks a lot Governeur…

Huge longshot Shivaree took advantage of  his inside post and went right to the front.  The son of Awesome Of Course showed a lot by saving some late and outfinishing Et Indien down the lane.

There’s no denying that Sackatoga Stable, of Funny Cide fame, has another nice 3yo in this grandson of Tapit.  He has a great horseman in Barclay Tagg in his corner.  Gulstream Park’s recap of Tiz The Law’s big win in the Florida Derby.

“He is something special. It would be a lot of fun going to Kentucky in five weeks, but that’s not happening, obviously,” Owner Jack Knowlton said. “Now we get to run some more races. Maybe the Wood will come back in play. Maybe we can do a Travers-Derby double. Right now it’s a blank slate. Nobody knows what’s going to happen where or when with all that’s going on in the country.”

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – March 16

Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGOS visitors. Agameofskill.com is an educational website for handicappers.  Thank you for visiting.

GULFSTREAM PARK

ROMAN EMPIRE (Race 5, GP 2/28/2020) – Empire Maker colt moved to the dirt for his second career start and looked like he may have a nice future for trainer Todd Pletcher.  Crushed a decent field and should handle class rise next out.

AS SEEN ON TV (Race 14, Fountain of Youth, GP 2/29/2020) – Lookin At Lucky colt didn’t have the best of trips here as he was stuck racing inside of horses for most of the running.  That’s a tough spot for a young colt but he never gave up and was just bobbed out of the place spot at the wire.   Kelly Breen runner has talent and can improve in the right spot.

Read what Graham Motion and Terry Finley had to say about the FBI  indictments of the slimey Navarro and Servis.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

POINT OF HONOR (Race 2 at TAM, 3/7/2020) – This was clearly a prep race for the Grade 1 placed runner from last year.  She ran well to be a non-threatening 2nd behind a quality stakes winner and should move forward off this public workout  (Weaver is only 11% with layoff runners).

GOGO SHOES (Race 6 at TAM, 3/7/2020) – This filly ran sneaky well in her debut when 4th and then came back here to improve further as many second time starters do.  She crushed a good looking maiden special weights field on the Derby undercard.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – March 2

track announcer with binocularsHorses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGOS visitors. Agameofskill.com is an educational website for horse racing fans and handicappers.  Thank you for visiting.

GULFSTREAM PARK

TOOK A CAB (Race 2 @GP, Feb. 26, 2020) –  This cheap maiden claimer had run against the bias back on Feb. 7th and returned in a winnable spot here.  Unfortunately, after new rider Jaramillo sent him to the lead he dueled with another horse.  He finally put that one away but those efforts took it’s toll in the final 1/16th of a mile.  Eligible to win back in the right spot.

NEW HOPE ROAD (Race 4 @GP, Feb. 26, 2020) – Quality Road filly closed belatedly for third behind the top 2 logical horses in first start since June. Barn only 8% off long layoffs so she could improve next out.

Racing News: Churchill Downs’ stock upgraded

FREUDIAN FINISH (Race 9 @GP, Feb. 20) – Returned off a layoff for trainer Brendan Walsh and nearly pulled off a big upset.  Got run down late by a sharp closer.  There’s a reason Tyler G. took this mount.  Can move forward off this strong performance.

OAKLAWN PARK

WAR VETERAN (Race 5 @OP, Feb. 27, 2020) – This four year old is rounding into sharp form for the Ron Moquet barn.  4yo sat a great trip stalking the leading duo before taking over and drawing off as much the best.  Should handle the rise to “3 life” company next time out at Oaklawn Park.

SAM HOUSTON

ALWAYS INTHE MUNNY (Race 5 @HOU, Feb. 26, 2020) – 3yo Munnings filly was making only her third start and first for a new barn.  She ran a huge race, giving the odds-on favorite everything she could handle.  Also sports a nice turf pedigree, so watch for dirt or turf.