Keeneland Trainer Book now available for 2013 Fall Meet

KEENELAND WINNING TRAINER PATTERNS

– 2013 FALL MEET EDITION – Now available

Winning Patterns on 110 Trainers!  Bonus Handicapping Articles

50 Trainers have accounted for nearly 72% of all Keeneland wins.  It’s time you know how they did it!

Keeneland Fall 2013 meet

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If you handicap the races at Keeneland, then understanding the tendencies of the trainers is paramount to success. Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns for 2013 is based on the extensive database of handicapper and author Art Parker, a regular contributor here on Agameofskill.com. It’s bigger and better than ever with no less than 110 winning trainers profiled!

In this unique trainer guide, Parker analyzes the winning patterns of the most successful horsemen that race at Keeneland. With this data right at your fingertips, you will know the winning tendencies of each and every trainer that has saddled multiple winners at Keenland over the past 7 race meets.

 

“It’s a wealth of information for horseplayers serious about attacking the Keeneland meets.” – publisher Rich Nilsen

The 2013 Fall Meet Edition of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” is now available from publisher All Star Press.

We’ve put trainers, Keeneland, and the past 7 meetings together (3 1/2 years) to try and have the best results possible for the upcoming fall meet, 2013. Our focus is on the trainers that do more than show up and win a race. We have detailed the individuals from the last seven meetings that were multiple winning trainers. In other words, a trainer had to collect at least two victories to be recognized.

 Winning Trainers – Last 7 Meets – Alpha Order
 Winning Trainers – Last 7 Meets – By Number of Winners
 Winning Trainers – Last 7 Meets – The Details for Each Winner

Just how good were the multiple winning trainers? Here are a few facts from 2010 – 13 that validate the importance of these successful trainers.

Keeneland held 1,063 thoroughbred races collectively in the seven meets dating back to the spring of 2010.

Trainers winning at least 2 races in these seven seasons totaled 111.

The 111 multiple winners won a total of 960 races collectively or 90.30% of all races.

Of the 111 multiple winners, 50 trainers won at least 5 races.

Those 50 trainers collected a total of 764 wins or 71.8% of all races. 

The details of all the winning trainers and their corresponding victories over the past 7 seasons at Keeneland are presented to handicappers in this book, Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns. A one-of-a-kind publication.

Only $9.97 now through PayPal. One ‘hit” will pay for this book 10x over.  Download it today to any PC or Mobile Device!

Buy Now

Attention KINDLE users – the book is now available through Amazon for Kindle e-Reader, Tablet or Apps

How Leading Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey Play the Claiming Game

by Art Parker, author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

In a couple of weeks most horse players taking in the Keeneland meeting will think of August 17, 2013 when they hear the name Ramsey. That was the day that thoroughbred owners and breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey stood high above the world of thoroughbred racing. It was the day they won three Grade 1 races in about one hour. They did this at two of the top venues in racing, Arlington Park and Saratoga Race Course. The Ramseys won the Secretariat Stakes and the Arlington Million in Chicago and the Sword Dancer at Saratoga. Many people were eye witnesses to the feat at those tracks, from all the simulcast parlors and OTB locations in the country and all of those that play the game at home with ADW. But there were more eyes watching as millions of television viewers saw the incredible feat without changing the channel.

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

As we move into the Keeneland meeting many will think of the Ramseys as only “big race” people. That, of course, is not true. Anyone waiting for the Ramseys to make an appearance only in the big Keeneland stakes races will miss a ton of action. At the 2013 spring Keeneland meeting, the Ramseys smashed an old record for wins by an owner. And one of the trainers they use (several trainers have the privilege of training for the Kentucky couple) broke the win record for trainers primarily with Ramsey horses. The trainer is Mike Maker.

In the last seven (7) Keeneland meetings Mike Maker leads all trainers with 62 wins. The closest thing to Maker is Ken McPeek with 56 wins and Wesley Ward with 53 wins. The special note on Ward is that 15 of his wins came with debut two year old runners. Ward does some training for the Ramseys and even though he is king of the first time baby starters, Ward has only one (1) victory for the Ramseys in this category. The majority of Ward’s wins for the Ramseys came with horses that shipped in from Florida for the spring meetings.

To show Maker’s strength at Keeneland just look at the mere mortals on the list and the number of victories they have since the beginning of the Spring meeting in 2010.

Mike Maker – 62

Ken McPeek – 56

Wesley Ward – 53

Todd Pletcher – 38

Graham Motion – 36

Bill Mott – 24

Wayne Catalano – 28

Rusty Arnold – 27

The Maker/Ramsey runners that win at Keeneland did not win the race at Saratoga from which they were claimed.

Other training notes related to the Ramseys. Chad Brown, who trained the Ramsey’s Arlington Million and Sword Dancer winners has 14 wins at Keeneland in the same period and two (2) of those have been with Ramsey horses. Wayne Catalano has been to the winner’s circle with 5 Ramsey horses in the same time frame.

But the real man for the Ramseys at Keeneland is Mike Maker. Of Maker’s 62 wins in the time period 32 were Ramsey owned runners, a little more than half. Overall, about 70% of Ramsey winners at Keeneland in the last seven meetings were trained by Mike Maker.

Let’s face it. The Ramsey stable is a big, big name in the business and they do more than just own horses. They are a force in the breeding business. So when one trainer can claim so much of their action at two of the most prestigious race meetings in North America, it signals a great vote of confidence.

When examining Maker wins for the Ramseys at the fall meet, one will notice several horses that won at Keeneland were winners first time after being claimed at Saratoga. The pattern line reads: L-1, C-1, which is first time layoff, first time claim. The timing for such makes perfect sense. The Ramseys claim a horse at Saratoga and it gets a rest of at least 45 days and the benefit of Maker’s training, then they show up at Keeneland and whip the competition. When examining a look at the spring meetings, one will see the same thing for Maker/Ramsey horses except they were coming from either the Fairgrounds or Gulfstream. But the most unlikely thing almost always appeared in the pattern line and that was the words class drop.

Most experienced horseplayers I know get a cold chill when they see a horse coming off a claim and dropping in class. It is normally a bad sign. But what the Maker/Ramsey combo have done is to claim horses at Saratoga and give them a very subtle drop in class; such as a claim for $20,000 and then run them at Keeneland for $16,000, or, claim for $25,000 and run for $20,000. Keeneland’s purses are good and if you have plenty of reasons to believe that you made a good buy, then you can take a drop, collect good purse money with a win and come out fairly good even if someone claims the horse. With Keeneland’s purses a second place finish can often make up the difference between the claiming prices if you lose the horse at the box. The key to remember is that the Maker/Ramsey machine play this game very well. It is advisable to pay particular attention if they get a horse that can fit into a lower price starter allowance race.

So, where does that leave us today with the upcoming Keeneland fall meeting? It is hard to tell how many horses Maker will train for the Ramseys. Maker has recorded a majority of his wins in the spring meetings at Keeneland. But there is another clue regarding this successful combo and I believe it sends a signal of what we may see at Keeneland in October, and we have already seen at Churchill Downs.

At Saratoga this summer the Ramseys claimed 32 horses. It turned out that the claim box sold 261 horses during the Saratoga meeting and the Ramseys were the biggest buyer and accounted for 12.2% of the claims. On all of the claims Mike Maker was listed as the trainer. Every single one. Of course the Ramseys could dump some runners off with other trainers at other locations but it is hard to imagine that they were not loading the guns for Keeneland, and even the new Fall meeting at Churchill Downs. In fact, the combo has already struck with a first time claim from Saratoga at the new September meeting in Louisville.

On September 6, 2013, the first day of the new fall meeting in Louisville, the combo sent out Wild Target in a $30,000 claiming race. The horse was claimed from Eddie Kenneally at Saratoga for $35,000. Wild Target easily whipped the field even after breaking slow. The winner’s share of the race paid $15, 420. The horse was not claimed, but if it had been, the Ramseys would still make a profit.

Here is another view of the Ramsey’s claims at Saratoga:

  1. Of the 32 horses claimed 22 are male and 10 are female. Of the males 16 are geldings, which mean they were claimed to run and make money as soon as possible since they have no breeding value.
  2. Only three (3) horses were claimed for $50,000 or more. Eight (8) were claimed for $35,000, nine (9) were claimed for $25,000, and twelve (12) were claimed for $20,000. The higher priced horses may wind up in allowance or low level stakes competition, and if they are Kentucky breds they can actually be eligible for their share of additional purse money (usually from $7,000-$8,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
  3. Six (6) horses that were claimed won the race from which they were claimed. Fourteen (14) finished in the money in the race from which they were claimed.
  4. The Maker/Ramsey combo raided some good trainers with multiple claims in a short period of time, such as: Linda Rice (3 claims in 4 days), Rusty Arnold (2 claims in 4 days), Steve Asmussen (2 claims in 2 days) and Jason Servis (2 claims in 4 days).

In the past Maker has taken Ramsey’s Saratoga claims and usually worked them at Churchill’s training track which is listed as Cdt before they run at Keeneland. Also, in the past no Maker/Ramsey runner claimed at Saratoga has won at Saratoga and then won at first asking at Keeneland. The Maker/Ramsey runners that win at Keeneland did not win the race at Saratoga from which they were claimed.

Be sure you look for the names of Maker and Ramsey at the Keeneland meeting. Don’t just think you only see them on TV with big named expensive horses. They are right there with the claimers like everybody else. And, they are very good at the game.

 

Editor’s Note: The 2013 fall meet edition of Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns is due out soon.

A Method for Attacking Races with Lightly Raced Horses

Handicapper Kelzenberg Tonyby Tony Kelzenberg, aka The Flat Bet Prophet

Not everyone likes betting on lightly raced horses in maidens or allowance races. These types of races have few horses with starts under them (in fact many races are filled with First Time Starters – a.k.a. FTS), and evaluating pedigrees of race horses can confound experienced players, much less the novice fan. Despite these challenges, I can attest I do very well playing lightly raced horses every year. I have a basic method that combines QUANTITATIVE and QUALITATIVE analysis of experienced runners and FTS.

 

Lightly raced runners – QUANTITATIVE FACTORS
(1) Trainer stats – some trainers are very successful winning with a FTS. Winning trainers will have developed a “winning pattern” to get their horses ready to win.  Most data services in the States will provide this information to punters.  A guideline I use is a trainer that can win with 14% of his FTS is a solid threat to win with a FTS in today’s race.

(2) Pedigree information – I uses Brisnet.com’s Ultimate Past Performances, and they are really effective at identifying which horses have a pedigree to “win early” in their first or second start. Using Brisnet.com’s data I can identify if a sire (father of the runner) and damsire (father of the MOTHER of the runner) both produce 14% winners or more from FTS. The higher a sire’s percentage of winners from FTS, the more likely the combination produces a quick firster. Another stat I look at is the dam (mother of the runner). If a dam has produced 50% or greater 2yo winners from 2yo starters that also implies today’s runner could be quick. Lastly, a good rule of thumb for “win early” breeding is look for a sire and damsire that both had sprinter/miler speed when they raced

2YO RACES – QUALITATIVE FACTORS

(1) Workout Pattern – To me, workout pattern of any lightly-raced runner is the key to determining the type of runner a horse is (early speed, mid-pack, or back marker), and how fit the horse in question really is.  I look at the initial work first, to see if the horse “breezed” well.  Usually a North American-trained horse makes his first breeze at three furlongs.  I want to see a decent time. A good initial breeze would be 36 3/5 or faster, but 37 1/5 would be OK. This demonstrates that the FTS has some talent. Then, the FTS should work every 6 to 7 days, leading up to race day with NO BREAKS in its work tab.  If there is a break in the work tab either the horse may be lacking in fitness or may have had a training mishap.  Lastly, I want to see some 4 furlong works in 48 seconds or faster works mixed in with some 5 furlong works for stamina.  I consider it a strong negative if a horse shows ONLY fast workouts.  Very often, these horses are hard to control and they “pull” against the exercise rider in the mornings, and it is likely they will do the same thing in the afternoons.  Ironically, these types of runners take a lot of public money, because they are “fast!”  But alas, most likely too fast to last, it seems.

There was the workout pattern for a nice 5/1 FTS winner named Anusara who won a $50,000 Maiden Claimer (all horses were up for sale from $45,000 to $50,000) going 1300m in Race 8 on May 19, 2013 at Churchill Downs.  The purse was $25,701 (maiden races where there is no claiming price run for a much higher purse – $50,000).   Anusara won by 5 and ¼ lengths.

Feb 27       3 furlongs   38.0 seconds (first career work)

Mar 7        3f             36.8 sec (Note the quick second breeze)

Mar 17       3f             36.0 sec (even faster)

Mar 26       4f             48.4 sec (very nice)

Apr 8         4f             49.6 sec (stamina work)

Apr 22       5f             62.6 sec (stamina work)

May 1        4f             48.6 sec (work out of the gate)

May 10      4f             48.0 sec (best speed work yet – also out of the gate)

In North America the Form has to include every work for lightly raced horses.  In the “olden days,” the Form only included a horse’s last four works, which would be incomplete, at best.  It is easy to see that reviewing the Anusara’s work pattern, from the START of the workout cycle, indicated she was ready to win and was a must use in the exotics.  5/1 on this kind of horse is OK, but I was able to bet some exotics that hit after Anusara won her race.  I should add that Anusara’s works were not every 6 or 7 days, so this would not be ideal.  Note Anusara was entered against claiming maidens, so it might be inferred that she needed those extra days to recover between works and/or may have some soundness issues.

The same day, I used a three year old filly, a once-raced runner named Intelyhente, who last ran November 24, 2012 at CD on the grass, showing some early dash before being beaten by 12 lengths.  Not a very auspicious debut.  The level was straight maidens – a $50,000 purse.  The pedigree was good for grass (Smart Strike out of a Boundary mare) and the price was right (8/1 on the morning line and 6/1 when she won by going “over the top”).  The race distance was 1800m.  Here was her workout pattern:

Apr 7         4f             50.0 sec (first work back)

Apr 13       4f             49.2 sec (stamina work)

Apr 20       5f             63.4 sec (stamina work)

Apr 27       4f             48.6 sec (speed work)

May 4        4f             48.0 sec (speed work)

May 14      5f             60.2 sec (speed work)

Most of the works were EXACTLY seven days apart, meaning everything was going to plan and she was fit and well.  The speed works put some speed into her.

 (2) Sales Prices – generally yearling sales prices are meaningless in trying to predict success in sprint baby races, so I would submit not using yearling prices as a benchmark. I can recall a 2yo MSW at Saratoga a few years ago where a $50,000 yearling THRASHED a $250,000 yearling. 2 year old buys, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous. Why? Because 2yo buys have another 6 to 8 months to develop, they are thoroughly vetted, and they have to work out under a STOPWATCH. Expensive 2 year old buys ($250,000 and up) almost always can run. Cheaper 2 year old buys ($50,000 to $245,000) often times can be overlooked at the windows and should be considered live animals.

(3) Number of starts – Horses that don’t break their maidens by their third start are huge under performers at the windows. They often tend to lose by narrow margins, so their odds will be low, but it is my experience you are better off with a horse making its first or second start than betting on a potential “career maiden.”

8 Strategies and Tips to Help Your Bottom Line – Part II

Ross Gallo continues offering his wisdom from 30 years of handicapping with the remaining five steps from his article last week.

Don’t be afraid to use the “All” button on occasion.  Handicappers are a proud lot.  I know guys who will never press “All”.  “There’s always throwouts.”  Or, “The 5, 7 and 8 can’t win here.”  I get it, really.  You know what you’re doing, you can weed out the race and it’s a waste of money.  Well, I contend that horses win every day that you couldn’t have had with tomorrow’s paper.  And I certainly don’t think you should always use it, but sometimes there are races so hard they can’t be handicapped.  And the extra cost will repay you in the long run with just a couple of those “impossible” wrinkles.

An example: 2007 the first year the Breeders Cup went to two days, I was at Canterbury Park preparing to play in my handicapping tournament (yes I had a real-money high end BC tournament, LONG before the BCBC.  But that’s a story for another day), a few buddies and I decided to pitch in and play the late Pick 4.  I took everyone’s opinion and started writing up the play.  We agreed on two things, the first leg was impossible and we liked Corinthian in the last leg, the Dirt Mile.  I felt I was done when I noticed we had left four horses out of the first leg.  I wrote one last ticket, those four with our top three horses in both of the next two legs and Corinthian in the last.  $36 out of a total $600 play, only 6% of the play.  Impossible horse wins first leg, $60 or $80 to win I think.  Top 3 win next two, and Corinthian jogs.  The payoff: $24,000.

We’re high fiving and celebrating, another friend comes up to me, ‘How on earth did you guys come up with that first horse?!”  “All” button baby!  Can’t cash a Pick 4 if you’re not alive.”  With 50 cent Pick 3, 4 and 5’s, 10 cents supers and Pick 6’s out there, the cost of this practice, on occasion, is not as severe as one might think.  And I would point out, in a 10 cents super, you might only need one of those 80-1 shots to run third or fourth to make you a big score.

ALWAYS bet against Bridge Jumpers.  Bridge Jumpers, for those of you who might not know, are people who see what looks like a sure thing horse and bet huge amounts to show in order to grab that quick 5% return.  $100,000 to show will earn you a $5,000 profit.  This will often work, but as everyone knows there is no such thing as a sure thing.  Play everyone else to show every time in this scenario.  The risk is minimal.  In a six horse race, for example, a $5 show bet on everyone else in the race (besides the favorite) will cost $25 and you’re guaranteed $10.50 back.  In an extreme situation, if one of those horses miss, you could average $75 a show ticket.  That would get you a return of $562.50.  The payoffs aren’t always that big, but the upside far outweighs the risk.  These horses run out on occasion, and in the long run you can’t lose playing against them.   Bet $2, $5, $10, $20, or even $100.  Whatever your bankroll allows, whenever you see a horse with 95% of the Show pool or more, NEVER pass on any of these opportunities.

“My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got. “

Try to find a rebate program.  There are so many of them out there these days.  Most of the online services, and even some tracks offer cash back.  Ask your friends what they’re doing, but definitely look around.  The more you bet, the more they’ll give you, but even a percentage point back can have a positive effect on your bottom line come year’s end.

Keep a playback/play against list.  DRF and Brisnet.com both offer Stable Mail for free.  Easy to use, for sure, and invaluable.  You see a horse get stopped several times, come late for a sneaky fifth, you have to bet him back.  With horses changing tracks it’s easy to miss him if you don’t have an email notification service.  Conversely, I find keeping horses to play against next out just as valuable.  Odds-on favorite gets perfect trip and is all out to beat a 30-1 shot and looks terrible doing it.  Form will look good with the win, but that’s a horse that will get bet next out that I want to eliminate.  Betting against low priced horses that you’re fairly sure are throwouts?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Wagering Tote self service machine

copyright AGameofSkill.com

Write down your bets before you go to the window.  This sounds simple right?  It is, but I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like this:  “Hey what do you like this race?”  “I love the 6 with 1, 2, 3.”  I watch the race, it runs 621, I see my friend.  “What did you get there?” “I don’t know he says as he rifles through the tickets.”  “Oh no man I forgot to get the $20 exactas 6 over 1-2-3, I only have a stinking $1 tri.”  Exacta paid $60 but the favorite ran third and the trifecta was $150 for a dollar.  My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got.  I always write my bets down before I go to the window or sit down to bet at the computer.  This way I know I’ll get what I want, and if the total comes out different than what I figured, I know I forgot something or messed up a part wheel ticket.  This is a very simple tip that will save you from yourself.  The game is hard enough as it is, you don’t want to leave money behind with human error.

There you have it.  A few things that have worked out well for me over the years; hope they do the same for you.  Happy hunting (winners) my friends!

Join this Horseplayer in Handicapping Woodbine

By Art Parker

One of the things that simulcasting and Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) gave horseplayers was the opportunity to broaden our horizons. When simulcasting came around we were able to stay at our home track and play a couple of other tracks from around the country. The simulcast menu at most tracks has grown to the point where plenty of track options are available everyday you walk in the door. ADW extended the opportunity since most ADW companies do their best to offer any track that is running.

In case you haven’t played Woodbine, the premier track in Canada. then consider what the Toronto track offers.

Woodbine currently has the lowest take out on straight bets in North America. That’s very enticing, particularly if you also get rebates on your wagers. Along the player-friendly lines, Woodbine offers a 20 cents minimum on trifectas, superfectas, pick 3s and pick4s…the door is open to everyone on the exotics wagering menu. Plus, the pick 4s have guaranteed minimum pools every day.

The Woodbine meet is long, starting in April and finishing in mid-December. It is a great track for keeping records and being acclimated to everyday play. The track offers racing almost every Wednesday with a card consistent in quality with its normal daytime cards. The quality of racing at Woodbine is very good and, even though many of the stakes are restricted to Canadian bred runners, Woodbine has a very good stakes program, including quite a few graded events that always give the player a big race to look forward to.  A perfect example is this Sunday (July 7) with the $1 Million Queen’s Plate card.

The surfaces at Woodbine are excellent. The layout is unique since the main track is located inside the turf course. The Polytrack has performed well with its consistency and safety.

For the player that wants to have a track that is on the ball and providing plenty of information, then Woodbine is your track. I’m convinced the track has the best commentary and analysis in the racing world. Excellent commentary before the card begins, with analysis before each race that also includes a paddock analysis. When you put this together with an excellent audio/visual system then you have a horse player’s dream. Woodbine also does a great job with its website where information available to the player is far more in-depth than at most track websites.

I believe Woodbine is, indeed, the true “Player’s Track.” Take a look at Woodbine.  Check it out the next time you play the horses. I think you will wind up agreeing with me.

— Art Parker  is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns.”  Art keeps detailed trainer notes on both Keeneland and Woodbine racing.  His Keeneland publication comes out every spring and fall here at AGameofSkill.com

Kelzenberg’s Late Pick-4 Analysis for Prairie Meadows Iowa Festival of Racing

by Anthony Kelzenberg, The Flat Bet Prophet

Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s time for the Iowa Festival of Racing! And that means a few good horses running in shorts fields for great money.

Race 6) Saylorville Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 6 furlongs

This is a contentious field, with every horse having a chance. Most of the mares know only one way to go – to the lead! As such, I will go with classy midpack-running animal #5 BEAT THE BLUES as my top pick, as she can close off fast fractions. She likes to win too – 10 wins in 24 starts while racing in top company. #4 LIVI MAKENZIE and #3 LULU WONG would both appreciate it if the other horse wasn’t in the race – they are both one-dimensional speed balls. But both are capable of winning. #1 SECOND STREET CITY intrigues me because she’ll be a relatively high price and she’s in great form. I will throw her in my pick 4.

Race 7) Iowa Distaff Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 1 1/16 miles

I am lukewarm on #2 FLASHY AMERICAN. Her last race was dynamite, but it took her 18 starts to get through her “two other than” allowance condition. I am going to use her but I would not be surprised to see her defeated. #4 CRUZETTE is the speed of the race and will have to be caught. Her speed figures are good enough to contend and the trainer and jock hit at a 30% rate together. #7 QUEEN LILY KAY’s speed and pace figures also put her in the mix if Flashy American falters.

Race 8) [Feature] Iowa Sprint Handicap – Purse $125k, 6 furlongs

In possibly one the the most significant owner/trainer switches since Seabiscuit (okay, may not that many years), #3 DELAUNAY has turned into a win machine, winning seven stakes in his last eight starts, running huge figures. #2 GENTLEMAN’S BET is nearly as good, showing four wins and a third in five starts. Should be a great race for all the fans who come watch Friday night.

Race 9) Claiming $12,500, 6 furlongs

#1(1a is OK but I much prefer the #1) 8-5 morning line

PICK 4 Ticket: 1,3,4,5 with 2,4,7 with 2,3 with 1,5,8  ($36 cost for a 50 cent base wager)

Always remember to wager within your comfort level.

— Kelzenberg has a B.S. Degree in Engineering from U of Minnesota, M.S. Degree in Engineering from Northwestern University. He has run a Math/Science tutoring business since Sept. 2003

Horse Racing Fans Need to Step Up to the Plate

by Art Parker

About the only time I go to a track is when I am on vacation, have a business trip or visit my daughter in the D.C. area. I’m definitely part of the growing Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) legion of players. Last week I took a few days off and visited my daughter, who lives on the Maryland side of our nation’s capital. She invited me to come since it was around Father’s Day time and, of course, she sweetened the invitation with the one line I love to here, “Dad, we can go to the track one day.”

My daughter, now 32 years old, was taught how to read a Racing Form when she was in the third grade and she is a good handicapper. Even though we are separated by 700 miles we “play the races together” online and in online tournaments. I can say that the love of horse racing is a family affair, so you can imagine the priority we place on going to the track together whenever possible.

Delaware Park walking ring, horses. June 2013. Photo by Art Parker for AGameofskill.com

copyright Art Parker & AllStarPress.com

When I visit her in the summer we go to Delaware Park (DEL). It is not too far from the D.C. area, and if not for the ridiculous road tolls in Maryland, it would be a delightful trip especially when the weather is nice. We went to DEL on the Saturday before Father’s Day and the weather was picture perfect. It was a great day to be outside and we decided to hang out in the picnic area. DEL is a beautiful track in a beautiful setting.

“Racing missed the original sports television era and then has tried to play ‘catch up’ ever since. It has been forced to fight a massive swell of casino operations that have covered the landscape far beyond the borders of Nevada where all of that started.”

We shared the track that day with many others. I don’t know if there was a special promotional day or not, but there was a ton of kids there. You could tell it was a day for mom and dad, or grandpa and grandma, to take kids to the track.  The track has a great outdoor area with plenty of “climbing” equipment that young kids love, which located next to the picnic area at the clubhouse turn. For those with kids it is a good area to watch the races especially when the race goes around two turns.

One could also tell that many in attendance were “rookies,” not just because of the kids but because of the long lines at the tellers and how slow they moved. It is safe to assume that many in the teller lines were rookies because the self service machines had no waiting lines.

For one race I strolled up to the fence hoping to see my horse win with ease, which didn’t happen. The man standing next to me was in a bad way and said with disgust, “I’ve never seen so many rookies in my life.” I asked him what he meant just to make sure I knew since he directed the line toward me. “All of these damn rookies get in the way, hold up the lines, and they probably brought all of these kids,” he growled. I just nodded primarily to acknowledge the fellow and avoid an argument. I came close to chewing his butt out, but I thought better of it and remained silent.

I thought it was a great day. I was glad to see the rookies and I was glad to see the kids. We need them. We need new enthusiasts. We need kids to come to the track and have fun and then pester their folks about coming back again.

Racing has not been wise when it comes to fan development. Racing missed the original sports television era and then has tried to play ‘catch up’ ever since. It has been forced to fight a massive swell of casino operations that have covered the landscape far beyond the borders of Nevada where all of that started. In addition to those near mindless games found in a casino, horse racing has had to fight the completely mindless games called lotteries. The fight is ongoing and it is a tough one. And the fight will remain tough if we do not open every possible door to potential newcomers. Having tracks open up for families to go to the track and take the kids is necessary for horse racing to continue the fight for its share of, not only the gambling dollar, but the entertainment dollar.

We have many great tracks in America like Delaware Park. And these tracks can be a great place to take the family. Let’s make sure we let all people feel welcome. We need new blood and new enthusiasts. Once they get there then we have to teach them how to play or we will lose them. Remember, our game is a game of skill, not a mindless game of chance.

If you see a rookie at the track be sure and welcome him or her, then offer to help. After all, that person may want to bring his whole family next week. And that’s not a bad thing. I promise.

Horse Racing is a Game of Skill…in India, too

Is horse racing handicapping a game of skill?

The current gambling laws in India are ambiguous. The Gambling Act, 1867, prohibits gambling and the setting up of gaming houses. However, it does not apply to “games of skill.”  Several court judgments have discussed the difference between “games of chance” and “games of skill”. In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that betting on horse races is a game of skill, and not just luck. Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu allow betting on horse-racing, provided it is conducted on race courses and through licensed bookies. Gambling on rummy is also allowed.

“In a similar fashion, a game of cricket involves skills of players,” says FICCI’s Singh.

Read the rest from Business Today (India)

What Happened to Shanghai Bobby and Uncaptured?

Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER for AGameofSkill.com

Shortly before the Breeders’ Cup last year, a nice colt named Uncaptured invaded Kentucky from Canada and won the Iroquis Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs, defeating the future Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze in the process. Overanalyze went on to run in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Uncaptured bypassed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park, but stuck around Kentucky and once again proved his fondness for Churchill Downs by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) defeating Frac Daddy, the future runner up in the Arkansas Derby and a participant in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

While Uncaptured was making a name for himself, Shanghai Bobby was winning everything in sight including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Shanghai Bobby, who is trained by America’s top conditioner Todd Pletcher, was named the two year old champion for 2013. Uncaptured was named Canada’s Horse of the Year for 2012 and the first two year old to be voted Canada’s Horse of the Year since 1986.

The 2013 season started with defeats for what many thought to be the best colts in North America. Shanghai Bobby lost in late January in Florida and then lost in the Florida Derby. A few days after the Florida Derby, a press release from the Bobby camp said the colt would miss the Triple Crown and may be back in late summer or in the fall. Uncaptured lost in his 2013 debut at Turfway Park to a 15-1 shot named Black Onyx, a horse he should have run down in the stretch. Three weeks after that Uncaptured ran terribly in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a performance that took him off the Triple Crown trail.

The day after the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Uncaptured was back home at Woodbine in Toronto in the Wando Stakes, a listed stakes event that seemed to be beneath Canada’s Horse of the Year and a Kentucky Derby hopeful. Uncaptured was defeated by a one time winner and barely managed second place.

What happened to these two colts? I don’t believe you can blame it on training. After all, Pletcher is good enough to have five run in the Kentucky Derby. He had so many horses in America’s premier race that the media referred to them as “Todd’s Squad.” Yes, Pletcher is that good. And Uncaptured is trained by the King of Canada, Mark Casse. In the last four years Casse has won almost 400 races just at Woodbine.

When horses are injured, a reversal of form is expected. But it is difficult to understand how some horses go in the wrong direction when they are not injured. It is even more difficult to understand when the horses in question are top notch stakes horses.

I have the answer and the answer is, I don’t know. And none of us should pretend to know the answer. After decades of playing the horses and being a dedicated student of the game, I can tell you that this happens all of the time and it always will. Every year I see some great prospects become also rans. Just like we see some that can’t run a lick and then, late in their three year old year or early in their four year old year, they start running and winning. I’m sure breeding may have something to do with some of this, but we can only predict the impact of breeding on an individual horse just so far.

I’ve been told that a thoroughbred is not fully grown until sometime between four and five years old. If that is true (or near the truth) then the difference between ages two and three, and the difference between ages three and four, is like a rapidly changing cycle. It is like dealing with a human from age 12-17. For those of you that are parents and your kids are this age or older, you know that dealing with kids is a near impossible task! Don’t get upset if you are one of those that bet on Verrazano or Goldencents in the Kentucky Derby. Remember, you placed your faith in an irresponsible teenager that cannot decide what to do with his life. What else can you expect?

On the other hand, the challenge of predicting form can play to our advantage. If one horse doesn’t run, it doesn’t mean they all stop. As one horse decides to loaf around there is another that decides to get going. There must be a winner in every race, and it is our job to find that winner. And there is a good chance that later this year or sometime next year, you analyze a race and may decide to bet on a horse that is “rounding into top form.” Don’t be surprised if his name is Shanghai Bobby or Uncaptured. Sometimes teenagers grow up and act responsible. 

Ken & Sarah Ramsey off to a fine start at Keeneland

Why not make it a dozen?

 

By ART PARKER

Entering the 2013 spring meeting at Keeneland, Ken and Sarah Ramsey accumulated 11 owner titles at the Lexington oval. Six fall meetings and five spring meetings have the Ramsey name at the top of the owner’s list. By the looks of things during the opening weekend at Keeneland last week, the Ramseys couldn’t wait to win their twelfth Keeneland title.

Keeneland Green LogoIn the first three days of racing the Ramseys were victorious in the first two races of the meeting, the last three races run, and one in between. The Ramseys won six of the first 29 races; a tad more than 20% run at Keeneland. The only bad news during the weekend is that the Ramseys actually endured fifteen consecutive races without a win! Go figure.

What is refreshing about watching the Ramseys win races is that there is nothing restrictive about their ownership involvement. In this game we see many owners that only come to the track when their horse runs, and usually their horse is a stakes runner. But with the Ramseys you see a little bit of everything, and they appear to be just as proud of a lower level claimer as a graded stakes runner.

Let’s look at the Ramseys winners in the first three days at Keeneland’s spring meeting.

Day one, race one: A $30,000 non-winners of two lifetime claimer. The horse was claimed at Gulfstream.

Day one, race two: An optional claimer “three other than” that shipped in from Fairgrounds.

Day two, race one:  A $16,000 claimer that was claimed for $30,000 at Fairgrounds.

Then the “drought” when the Ramseys were winless for 15 consecutive races.

Day three, race seven: A debut runner.

Day three, race eight: Entry level allowance (turf) shipper from Gulfstream.

Day three, race nine: A $10,000 claimer that shipped in from Turfway Park.

Thus far at the Keeneland meeting, trainer Michael Maker has won five races for the Ramseys and trainer Wesley Ward has won one race for them. Others are likely to show up in the winner’s circle with Ramsey horses. In the meeting last fall the Ramseys won with Maker, Ward, Wayne Catalano and David Vance. Last fall the Ramseys won a total of a dozen races. After just three days this spring they already have half that number. There’s a good chance no other owner can even match what the Ramseys have done thus far.

 

The highlight of the opening weekend was the Grade One Ashland Stakes and the impressive romp made by Emollient, a gate to wire winner that looked to be light years ahead of the other three year old fillies. Mike Smith rode Emollient to a nine length winning margin after breaking from Post 13. Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott, Emollient covered the one mile and sixteenth in 1:43.49. Emollient is a daughter of Empire Maker out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch. With Belmont winners on both sides of her pedigree, Emollient should be even tougher the longer she goes.

— Art Parker is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” now available in all e-book formats for the 2013 spring meet. Get the inside scoop on the horsemen that win at Keeneland!